Call for Applications: After Violence. The (Im-)Possibility of Understanding and Remembering

Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 10:00 am - Sunday, February 3, 2019, 10:00 am
Prisma Ukraïna – Research Network Eastern Europe (Forum Transregionale Studien), “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies, Center for Governance and Culture in Europe/University St. Gallen, German Historical Institute Warsaw, European University
By registration only

The Transregional Academy will address issues related to the understanding and remembering of traumatic experiences of physical and symbolic violence that occurred during the 20th and 21st centuries. This violence was prolonged by the erasure of memory, through silence, oblivion, fear, indifference, and manipulation of the public consciousness. The Academy will consider problems of representation and the silencing of traumas in various kinds of narrative texts (memories, fiction, journalistic texts, historiography, cinema, graphic arts, paintings, monuments and other symbolic structures). The Transregional Academy will predominantly focus on Ukraine, which became one of the main battlefields of the 20th century, profoundly affected by revolutions, the two world wars, and the Holocaust. Ukraine now represents a space of both military and symbolic conflict. The Academy additionally wants to explore studies covering the wider Eastern-European region, seeking original and productive comparisons with similar phenomena beyond Ukraine. Researchers engaged in interdisciplinary work in the humanities and social sciences are highly welcomed.

The Transregional Academy aims to reflect upon the following themes, among others, in discussion:

  • Experiencing and witnessing traumatic events

What are the limits of reasoning a continued traumatic experience and how can we approach the moral dimension of such a mental act? Is it possible to create intellectual distance and, at the same time, maintain moral sensitivity to ongoing violence, when it has already become entrenched in everyday practices, and when the language of hatred has become a completely “natural” expression? How can the logic behind decisions of those people that are recruited to commit violence and kill their own compatriots, neighbors, or even friends and relatives, be explained (but not excused)? How could victims be perpetrators at the same time? What can we learn from analyzing the strategies of perpetrators to rationalize and self-justify their behavior? What traps could someone encounter from trying to comprehend the actions of a perpetrator?

  • Living and dealing with memories of a traumatic past

What kind of experiences and memories could be provoked despite or because of silencing the trauma? How did preserving and disseminating the knowledge about “unsanctioned” and unspoken traumatic experiences during Soviet era function? What are the long-lasting effects of living in a society of victims and perpetrators without any public reflection on the violence that once took place?

  • Commemoration, practices of forgetting and/or forgiving, and discourses beyond them

Do commemorative practices bring us closer or further away from a deeper understanding of violence? Is it possible to recall knowledge and experiences of violence one did not suffer from? What kind of experience cannot be covered by commemorative practices? How can commemoration become a self-negating practice? How can the process of forgiving contribute to reconciliation?


The Transregional Academy will be held in Dnipro (Ekaterinoslav-Dnipropetrovsk), Ukraine, where Cossack, Polish, and Russian imperial traditions compete with respect to the city’s origins. The city holds a special character from its closed status after the Second World War due to its production facilities for rocket missiles. 

Dates: 10–17 June 2019 in Dnipro, Ukraine


Scholars to be Invited to Give Guest Lectures: Korine Amacher (University of Geneva), Jan C. Behrends (Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) Potsdam), Serhii Plokhy (Harvard University), Miloš Řeznik (German Historical Insitute Warsaw), Carmen Scheide (University of Bern), Alexander Wöll (University of Potsdam).

Academy language: English

The organizers cover all costs of travel and accommodation.


How to Apply

The Transregional Academy is targeted at doctoral and postdoctoral researchers wishing to present their current projects that concentrate on the themes relevant to the questions raised above. Although the Transregional Academy focuses on Ukraine and Eastern Europe, comparative perspectives on the above-mentioned issues from other regions are highly welcomed.

— A CV (max. 3 pages);

— A three- to five-page outline of the project the applicant is currently working on, with a brief introductory summary thereof;

— A sample of an academic writing (in any language);

— The names of two university faculty members who can serve as referees (no letters of recommendation required).

The application should be written in English and sent via email as one pdf file to Please specify the topic of the Academy: “After Violence” in the subject line of the e-mail. Deadline for applications is 3 February 2019. Those who send their applications after the deadline will not be considered. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by mid-February 2019.

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