Professors Sabine Marschall (second right) and
Philippe Denis (back third left) with School of
Education staff members at the Symposium.

As part of an initiative in a proposal for the introduction of an interdisciplinary postgraduate programme in the emerging academic field of Memory Studies, Professor Sabine Marschall, Professor Philippe Denis and Ms Nokhaya Makiwane hosted a Memory Studies Symposium at the UKZN Innovation Centre.

The Symposium provided an important platform which brought together staff, students and interested external parties who share a research interest in the field.

‘We wanted to get to know each other, exchange information and learn more about each other’s research,’ said Marschall of the School of Social Sciences. ‘We also wanted to expand our knowledge of the field itself and its variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, facilitate collaborations among colleagues and possibly with external parties and to be inspired.’

The Symposium was divided into four categories with researchers presenting papers linked with themes such as Constructing Memories, Memory and Trauma and Memories of Apartheid.

‘There has always been interest in memory in the academia. A Sociologist by the name of Maurice Halbwachs wrote on collective memory in the 1940s for instance. Specialists of literary studies have looked at the way memory shapes literary work. Historians and anthropologists base their work on the memories of their informants.’

‘Psychologists, neurologists and psychiatrists look at how memory works in the brain.  But it was only in the 1980s and 1990s that Memory Studies emerged as a separate field of study.  It is eminently interdisciplinary. The purpose of the Symposium was to create a platform where specialists of various disciplines can exchange views on memory,’ said Denis.

From the School of Education, Professor Michael Samuel looked at: Beyond Narcissism and Hero-Worshipping: Narrative Inquiry and Life History Research as Theoretical and Methodological Tool in Education.  Ms Sagree Govender and Professor Reshma Sookrajh focused on: Theorising the Lived Experiences of Indian Diasporic Academic Women: Stoic Arborescence or Rupturing Rhizomes?

Also presenting were Ms Naretha Pretorius of the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity; Mr Nyasha Mboti of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society; Mr Clifford Madondo and  Mr Philani Dlamini  of the Sinomlando Centre for Oral History and Memory Work in Africa; Mr Malcolm Draper of the School of  Social Sciences; Mr Alain Tschudin of the Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies Programme, Professor Jonathan Draper of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, and Ms Anne Bruzas of the Hero Books Project.

The papers presented at the Symposium will be published in a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal with Denis and Marschall as Guest Editors.