Transformative Practices for Times of Uneven and Accelerating Change

About the SlowMemory COST Action

Slow memory is an emergent concept that is intended to help us think from new angles about how societies and individuals remember the pasts that meaningfully affect their present and future. It begins from the premise that we are quite skilled (and have much practice) commemorating sudden or extreme events such as wars, atrocities or catastrophes. But we are less certain about how to reckon with slow-moving transformations that may be just as impactful, such as climate change, deindustrialization, or the gradual expansion of social and political rights. Thus, both negative and positive change can happen without having a clear location or timeframe. This COST Action brings together scholars and practitioners from many different disciplines (humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, technologists) to consider how we may grasp the meaning slow processes, how we may remember slowly, and how we may study slow change and slow remembrance without feeling too much time pressure.

Meet our
Working Groups

WG1: Transformation of Work examines the decline of large-scale industry and the changing nature of the modern workplace, which has had significant effects on local communities and on individuals’ life perspectives. It seeks to develop slow memory concepts in relation to socio-economic analysis through exploring how remembrance practices can make visible economic transitions that are experienced unevenly and gradually. It brings methodological approaches to economic modelling and trends into dialogue with oral history techniques to develop new modes of narrating and visualising socio-economic change.
The current transformation of social welfare and growing inequalities in a slowly deteriorating care system lead us to seek a deeper understanding of how the future aspirations of community members are shaped and how these can be mediated through the practice of remembering. Bringing them together is the aim of WG2.
Though extremism may be on the rise on both ends of the political spectrum, the mobilisation of right-wing forces in a diverse set of countries poses a particular threat to democratic systems of governance and to inclusive political cultures. WG3 will analyse these threats through the lens of memory studies in three ways. First, right-wing and anti-democratic actors skilfully employ the politics of memory to persuade supporters and to drive societal actors into particular policy directions.
Societies gradually emerging from violent conflict face multiple challenges when it comes to dealing with the transgressions of the past and rebuilding the future. The overwhelmingly dominant approach in contemporary conflict resolution is to confront memories and narratives of conflict with a view to find consensus and promote reconciliation. This working group aims to develop ways of creating space for bringing together diverging circumstances, perspectives, experiences and practices into continued contestation and open-ended dialogues. We conceptualize the “slow transformation of conflict” as a form of peacebuilding, which is always a process, never an event.
WG5 will progress the conceptualization of slow environmental remembrance by drawing on the expertise and experience of stakeholder practitioners (e.g. environmental action groups, artists, curators, and museums). The resulting transdisciplinary dialogues between theory and practice will conceive of ways that environmental crisis can be remembered in radically expanded timeframes, laying the memorial foundations for future environmental policy work, and the theoretical foundations for analysing the forms, ethics, and politics of memory work that addresses the climate and ecological emergency.
How do global and local societies confront their past? How to they contend with current environmental, economic and social change? These are some of the main questions WG6 aims to tackle through collaborative exchanges and cooperation. We would like to create a shared understanding of slow memory as an approach and methodology more specifically utilized as a tool in comprehending to global and local grand-scale transformations and responding to their urgency and exigency .
WG7 is chaired by the Science Communication Manager and will ensure that the Action has a clear online profile and communication strategy. It will also have overall responsibility for updating and implementing the dissemination plan.

Latest Updates

On June 6, 2022, about sixty members of the COST Action on Slow Memory, which now has 38 member countries, met for the first time in person to discuss their research interests, to get to know each other as individuals, and to begin to figure out what this concept might mean for memory studies and remembrance practices.

On Nov. 25th, 2022 12-1:30 CET we will discuss the practicalities of organizing interviews with trade union representatives. If you would like to attend and you are not at our mailing list – please contact Joanna Wawrzyniak wawrzyniakj[at]uw.edu.pl.

Eleven members representing eleven countries met in-person in Portland and had three days of lively discussions about the concept of slow memory, the approach to politics, and the nature and direction of transformation we aim to achieve. 

The second conference for the COST Action “Slow Memory – Transformative Practices for Times of Uneven and Accelerated Change” will take place in Aarhus, Denmark from June 12th-16th, 2023.

As an overarching theme, the slow memory concept is the cornerstone of the training and capacity-building working group that inquiries into how global and local societies confront their past.

CA20105 Slow Memory WG 2 Welfare Meeting, June 8 & 10, 2022, Isle of Portland. The WG2 participants identified an overreaching theme of their interest as (de)institutionalization of care(s). Within this theme, the methods and concepts bringing them together are the following:

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