Religion and Public Memory Project

With the support of the Anneliese Maier Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation, I am directing a research project on Religion and Public Memory in Multicultural Societies, together with my colleague Prof. Dr. Monique Scheer, Director of the Ludwig-Uhland-Institut of Historical and Cultural Anthropology, University of Tübingen. The project runs from 2015-2020.

RPM focuses on how the contested – and sometimes celebrated – categories of religion and multiculturalism shape, provoke and complicate projects of public memory. How a nation remembers is a question that can be asked at both the large scale of nationally-run museums or Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and the small scale of lay people who write local histories or walk in local pilgrimages. This collaborative project gathers a diverse and international group of scholars and students doing both contemporary fieldwork and historical research. Our guiding question is: how does the past inform the present when living with religious diversity is an everyday reality for many, at the same time that religious difference is blamed for serious conflicts that strike at the heart of our societies?

For a brief overview of the wider project, see here.

CW_Poster_finalOur first workshop was held in December 2015. Christmas in the Multicultural City focused on historical and anthropological approaches to Christmas as a politically and emotionally contested secular/religious holiday.

Our next workshop, “Sites of Memory: Religion, Multiculturalism, and the Demands of the Past” was held in September 2016 at the University of Toronto. The workshop brought together scholars who think incisively about religion and memory in its myriad co-articulations, asking them to turn their gaze to race and multicultural realities or aspirations in particular.

An edited volume building on our 2015 workshop, The Public Work of Christmas: Difference and Belonging in Multicultural Societies, is currently in press with McGill-Queen’s University Press.