Keynote Lecture: A memory against forgetfulness

Lecture by Tine Destrooper.

A lot has been written about the use of history to challenge or even prevent human rights abuses that are taking place today. This makes sense on an intuitive level: by better understanding what happened in the past and why, we will better be able to prevent it from happening again in the future. However, there are several tensions and blind spots characterizing the assumption that by looking back, we will not only change the way we look at the present and future, but also the way we act. In the first part of this talk, I demonstrate that we know relatively little about the “pathways of impact”. As a matter of fact, the argument is increasingly challenged that growing awareness, a sounder understanding of an issue, and even empathic engagement are likely to lead to behavioral changes. In the second part of the talk I zoom in on three kinds of mechanisms that have this mandate of addressing the past to produce a better present and future, and us this as a stepping stone to engage in a more conceptual debate over the notion of interment as the “undoing of a political subject”.  Lastly, I reflect on the boundaries that -legal- language places on dealing with the past, and producing a memory against forgetfulness. Through these three steps, I explore how we can approach in a more convincing manner the use of history to prevent future human rights abuses.


Date & Time

March 17, 2020

09:00 - 17:00


Gower St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6BT, UK


Organized by University College London (Institute for Advanced Studies)