Conference Report – Working Group 3: “Transformation of Politics”

Conference Report – Working Group 3: “Transformation of Politics”

Slow Memory General Meeting, June 6-10, 2022 

Portland, UK

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 overall purpose of the meeting was to debate the slow memory concept, find shared interests and potential areas of collaboration that would move towards the overall aim of the action – to transform memory politics in response to changing forms of governance. However hard it is to summarize the diversity of insights and ideas expressed, here are some propositions that came out of the discussion: 

  • A consensus appeared to move the usual focus on memory politics from the study of history wars, memory struggles and uses of the past to putting our attention on more routinized actions (and in so doing slow and structural), looking for political actors on an everyday basis and regular administration as a way to grasp the structure of the contemporary government of memory and in doing so to be able to understand how to transform them. 

  • Three potential approaches to relationship of memory and politics were proposed: to pay attention to the impact of the contemporary tools of government (such as digitalization or images); to focus on the scales of government (from federalism to decentralization, from the state to the cities); to focus on the relationship between memory and ideology, thought of as political cognitive structure in itself.

  • In a recognition that urban planning projects interlink change and permanence, it was proposed that slow memory and politics might be most fruitfully studied at the scale of the city. In this respect, the following questions were raised: How storytelling and oral history has become integrate part of urban development? How memory is instrumentalized in policy making in this field?

  • Contested monuments or, more broadly, contested urban sites, appeared as a potential focus that united several group members and provided a way to study the relationship between slow memory and politics. Such sites could be considered as platforms of dissent but also as a point of departure from where grasp the administration, governmentalization and structure involved in the management of memory at cities level.  This was recognized as an interesting point of entry because of the clashing temporalities it involves: short term mobilization of long-term issues; the change of the monument and the very idea of it which imply a permanent symbolic situation. This clash of temporalities enables us to grasp memory from an administrative perspective.

Overall, many members recognized that it is hard to separate politics from other areas of the Action, such as work, welfare, environment or conflict, therefore the group’s initiative most likely will touch upon and be useful for other working groups of the action. One initiative that the group decided to work on was development of methodological tools that might be used by all action members across the diversity of countries they come from.  Two such tools were suggested:

  • A short list of questions which could be used by all the members of the action in order to make short interviews with politicians about their ordinary views to memory as political topic. This might include narrative or visual format. For example, respondents might be asked to draw their own mental mapping of statues in their neighborhood or to provide images that express their view of a city, memory, memorials, and political participation, triggering stories about city.   

  • A grid enabling each action participant to look at cities’ organigrams, administrations structures and elected bodies’ organization in order to map the administration of memory at the scale of the city. This mapping might also involve administrative and political actors actually involved in the management of contested monuments issue in the recent past.

Latest Updates

The Working Papers are among the most visible deliverables of this Action, and thus hold a specific importance. The following guidelines are supposed to provide a framework for writing and publishing Working Papers. Please use MS Word or LibreOffice Writer built-in styles For an introduction to MS Word styles, please go to Microsoft’s website, that...

Dear members of the Slow Memory COST Action, We hope this Newsletter finds you in good health and spirits. As we move towards the winter break and the third grant year, we would like to inform you about recent developments within the Action. Newsletter now online! Our Newsletter Bulletin will from now on be published...

Edited by: Irene Díaz (University of Oviedo) and Natalie Braber (Nottingham Trent University) from WG1 (Transformation of Work) of the Slow Memory Cost Action. Deindustrialisation processes represent a traumatic change for the societies that experience them. The cracking of what were presumed to be well-rooted economic foundations is accompanied by profound social and cultural transformations...

Dear Action Members, This is the Third Newsletter Bulletin of the Slow Memory COST Action, and we hope that you have enjoyed an inspiring and productive academic year 2022/23. Relaunch of the Slow Memory WebpageWe have been working in the past few months to improve our Slow Memory Website, and the new version is now...

Dear members of the Slow Memory Community, We hope that you are enjoying spring time at the moment. It is time for the second instalment of the Slow Memory Bulletin, the newsletter to keep you in the loop on events, projects, publications, and more… If you would like to share your news, contact the communication...

Dear participants of the Slow Memory COST Action, We are delighted to send you this first instalment of the Slow Memory Bulletin. This Newsletter is intended to inform you about recent and upcoming events, developments and projects within and beyond the Slow Memory Cost Action. It is also meant to provide a platform for members...

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more