The materiality of loss and absence: memory, place and politics

A guest lecture with Dr Susannah Eckersley from Newcastle University.

House keys.
House keys kept by former German home owners from Silesia after the post-WWII border change and their forced displacement. Silesian Museum Görlitz, Germany. Photo: Susannah Eckersley

Losses resulting from conflict, displacement, unexpected political or social change may be felt very deeply by individuals and within groups, but their significance is challenging to transmit to others, particularly when there is little material culture which remains.

That which does remain, has the potential to take on greater significance in relation to the intangible idea of loss and absence.

How can and do museums show the significance of absences, or of loss?

Looking at museum objects relating to the loss of home, of food and of childhood this talk will focus mainly on examples from Germany, as the basis for wider discussion of absence, memory, nostalgia, and the politics of emotions and belonging. 

About the speaker

Susannah Eckersley is a lecturer in Museum, Gallery & Heritage Studies at Newcastle University, UK, with research interests in dark heritage and museums (particularly in relation to German history); memory, identity and belonging; the heritage of migration, diversity and representation; cultural policy; museum architecture and built heritage.

She was a researcher on the European Commission funded, MeLA: European Museums in an Age of Migrations from 2011-2014, and is currently the deputy project co-ordinator of, and co-investigator on, CoHERE: Critical Heritages – performing and representing identities in Europe, funded by European Commission Horizon 2020.

Tags: Museums and Museology, Germany, Memory, Identity, Belonging
Published Mar. 5, 2018 12:37 PM - Last modified Mar. 5, 2018 12:38 PM