Research topic: Understanding of history - memory and public policy
Memories play an important role in enabling us to know who we are. While this is true for each and every one of us, it is equally true for societies and groups of different types.
Research into memories is concerned not only with life memories and autobiographical narratives, but also with collective memories: cultural heritage and cultural relics, monuments and what is known as "world heritage". Memories create identity and a sense of belonging, but they can also create divisions and disagreements.
The preservation of memories, whether they are material and take the form of buildings and monuments, or immaterial in the form of symbols and narratives, involves major political and societal considerations.
It is important to examine more closely the means by which a cultural heritage comes into existence, as well as the identity of those responsible for deciding what common memories a society should have.
What happens when different groups coincide and each demand space for their memories? Which memories should count as valuable and significant for a community when a collective memory is being formed and monuments are being set up? This question is always relevant. Some memories will be dropped in favour of others and will become invisible.
Cultural historical research into memories and related areas of public policy attempts to answer these questions through critical reflection over the processes that are set in motion when cultural memories are being formed.
A central area of interest is the tensions that exist between individual and collective memories: how individual experiences contribute to the formation of a shared cultural heritage and how society's memories can contribute to the formation of individuals' recollections of their own experiences.