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Bordered Memories: Public Memorializations and Activism in the Context of Global Migrations


This project intends to research grassroots memory-making initiatives in the region of the former Yugoslavia and Austria. The focus is on those initiatives which memorialize border-reshaping, and global waves of migrants and refugees that are crossing those borders. In relation to these topics the project poses the question: How do grassroots initiatives and activist groups, use memory to achieve political goals?

At a time when the Schengen system is on the verge of being dismantled due to the changed interstate relations and the dynamics of cross-border contacts caused by global migrations we have to look not just at physical but the symbolic demarcations of (trans)national territories of borderlands. The politics of memory in the borderlands become an instrument of both exercising state power and continuous challengings of it. Particularly sensitive in this case are European “south-eastern borders”, which went through several reshaping in the last 25 years and have recently served as a key space for practicing restrictive migration politics. In such a context the politics of memory in the borderlands involves a multiplicity of actors whose interests and identities depend on the (geo-)political context and are constantly renegotiated.

The dominant approach to the examination of the role of memory in these political processes focuses on the creators of memory policies, which are by the rule bearers of hegemonic political and social power (e.g. political representatives). In contrast, this project proposes an examination of grassroots engagement with the politics of memory, by looking at the “memory entrepreneurs”, “memory activists” as well as other civic activists and “ordinary” citizens, who engage with the public memory in politically meaningful way.

Research Project

memory; border; activism