Memory Studies: Theories, Practices, Perspectives

Emily Keightley

Francisco Ferrándiz

December 11, 2018, 15h00

Room 1, CES | Alta


Emily Keightley

Transmission, Transition and Trajectory: Temporal and Spatial Challenges for Memory Studies

Over the last 20 years memory studies has transitioned from a small research niche at the intersection of a number of humanities and social science disciplines to a rich and broad subfield with its own journal, multiple professional associations, and considerable influence in the various fields from media and communications to History. In many ways the field has moved apace, engaging with the implications of rapidly shifting communications technology for the character and quality of contemporary engagements with the past, the role of memory postcolonial societies, and mobilisation in troubled political times. Nevertheless some of the earliest intellectual challenges which early theorisations of social and cultural remembering grappled with remain very much alive and troublesome in contemporary memory studies research. In this talk I would like to address three such (interconnected) challenges and, using examples from my own current research project Migrant memory and the Postcolonial Imagination, think through the ways in which we might address them in contemporary work. These are issues of memory transmission over time and over space. In relation to the first of these challenges, I will consider how the movement of memories through time has been conceived, particularly in relation to mnemonic transmission across and between social scales, from the individual to the collective to the cultural. In doing so I will consider the limitations and elisions in accounts of movements of memory over time and go on to consider how the concept of the mnemonic imagination might help to address some of these issues. At the same time mobility and movement has become increasingly central to contemporary understandings of memory and remembering practices. Concepts such as transnational, transcultural and multidirectional memory have been used to explain the ways in which memories embedded in cultural forms move over time and space and in doing so how they shape contemporary social and personal identities. However we still have a relatively limited understanding of (a) what happens to memories as it moves across space and (b) how to understand these spatial movements as always also temporal in character. I will propose that we need to think more in terms of mnemonic trajectories to address the ways in which memories move across time and space, particularly under the conditions of late modernity which are so marked by social and cultural dynamics of mobility and immobility.

Francisco Ferrándiz

Engaging with the Spanish Civil War Legacy

This presentation is based on a fifteen-year-long ethnography of mass grave exhumations in contemporary Spain and deals with the much-disputed and incomplete unmaking of a concrete and massive militaristic inscription of Spain: that related to its last internal war (1936-1939) and  subsequent dictatorship (1939-1975). To understand this process and its historical roots, the presentation first dissects the formation of a funerary apartheid in the country since the end of the war. Secondly, it analyzes the impact on the social fabric of the mass-grave exhumations of Republican civilians that started in the year 2000. Thirdly, it traces how these disinterments have intersected with Spain’s most prominent Francoist stronghold, the Valley of the Fallen, and threaten the dictator’s burial place. Finally, it discusses the parallel dismantling of the dictatorship’s official statuary which once presided over prominent public spaces in many cities and some military quarters. It argues that rolling back militarization by dismantling war-derived cartographies of death, challenging military burial arrangements or degrading statues of generals necessarily involves a certain level of remilitarizing by other means. I call this mirroring and deeply embodied memorial backfiring phantom militarism.  


Bio notes:

Emily Keightley (Loughborough University)

Emily Keightley is a Professor of Media and Memory Studies at the Department of Social Sciences of the Loughborough University. Her current research project is Migrant Memory and the Post-colonial Imagination (MMPI), a five-year research project (2017-2022) funded by The Leverhulme Trust Research Leadership Award Scheme. Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the Partition of India, this research responds to the urgent need to capture cultural memories of Partition in the British Asian community. Previously, she had coordinated the research project Media of Remembering: Photography and Phonography in Everyday Remembering (with Prof Michael Pickering), funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The project investigated the everyday ways in which people remember using photography and recorded music. Emily is an editor of the international journal Media, Culture & Society and is a founding member of the Global Media Studies Network

Emily’s main research interest is memory, time and their mediation in everyday life. She is particularly concerned with the role of media in the relationship between individual, social and cultural memory. Emily’s previous research explores the roles of photography and phonography in the articulation of everyday memory and the gendered nature of mnemonic experience. In her recent work she has focuses on the relationship between migration, identity and memory. Emily’s research also involves the exploration of the temporal structures of modernity, and she has interests in cultural transmission and mobility. 

Her main publications are Memory and the Management of Change: Repossessing the Past. Palgrave Macmillan. 2017; Photography, Music and Memory: Pieces of the Past in Everyday Life. Palgrave Macmillan. 2015; Time, Media and Modernity (ed.) Palgrave Macmillan. 2012; The Mnemonic Imagination. (Memory Studies series, Palgrave Macmillan). 2012 (with Michael Pickering); and Research Methods for Memory Studies (ed.) Edinburgh University Press. 2013 (with Michael Pickering).


Francisco Ferrándiz (Center of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Spanish National Research Council)

Francisco J. Ferrándiz got his PhD at the University of California at Berkeley in 1996 and he is currently Staff Researcher in the Institute of Language, Literature and Anthropology (ILLA) of the Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CCHS) at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). His research in the anthropology of the body, violence and social memory encompasses two main ethnographic objects: the spiritist cult of María Lionza in Venezuela and, since 2003, the politics of memory in contemporary Spain, through the analysis of the current process of exhumation of mass graves dating from the Civil War.

Presently, he coordinates the research project The Politics of Memory in Contemporary Spain: A Decade of Mass Grave Exhumations, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Ministry of Economy. He is also a member of the Management Board of the H2020 project UNREST (, leading a work package on comparative exhumations in Spain, Poland and Bosnia. Previously, he had been the CSIC coordinator of the FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) 'Sustainable Peace Building' (SBUILD) and a member of the Management Committee of the COST action called In Search of Transcultural Memory in Europe.

He is the author of Escenarios del cuerpo: Espiritismo y sociedad en Venezuela (2004), Etnografías contemporáneas (2011), and El pasado bajo tierra: Exhumaciones contemporáneas de la Guerra Civil. He was also co-editor of The Emotion and the Truth: Studies in Mass Communication and Conflict (2002), Before Emergency: Conflict Prevention and the Media (2003), Violencias y culturas (2003), Jóvenes sin tregua: Culturas y políticas de la violencia (2005), Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Peace and Conflict Research (2007), Fontanosas 1941-2006: Memorias de carne y hueso (2010), and Necropolitics: Mass Graves and Exhuamtions in the Age of Human Rights.


Event co-organized by the projects CROME, ECHOES, MEMOIRS and the PhD Programmes in Discourses: Culture, History and Society (CES | FEUC | FLUC), Human Rights in Contemporary Societies (CES | IIIUC,) International Politics and Conflict Resolution (CES | FEUC) and Postcolonialisms and Global Citizenship (CES | FEUC).