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Competing Narratives of Failed Regimes: An International Comparison of National Memory Cultures

April 17, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Competing Narratives of Failed Regimes:
An International Comparison of National Memory Cultures


Roundtable at the German Historical Institute Washington (GHI)

1607 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

April 17, 2019, 6-8 pm


Co-sponsored by the Goethe-Institut Washington and the National History Center (NHC)


In the context of the current debate on Confederate memorials in the American South, the GHI Washington, in co-operation with the National History Center and the Goethe Institute Washington, is planning an event that will bring together experts on historical memory and memorial cultures from different countries. By providing insights into different national approaches of memorializing failed political regimes, the event aims to identify patterns of dealing with difficult and shattered pasts. Memories are at stake in public debates about taking down memorials or removing objects memorializing a failed regime.

The roundtable discussion will be divided into three parts. Each speaker will give a 10-minute introduction to a particular case. Their presentations will be followed by a discussion among the panelists, which will then be opened up to the audience.


Case Studies & Panelists



  • Confederate Memorials in the American South


Karen Cox is Professor of History at UNC, Charlotte and author of Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture and Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture. She has researched, taught and publicly spoken extensively on memorial cultures in the American South.



  • Germany, the Nazi Regime, and the GDR


Donna Harsch is Professor of History and Department Head at Carnegie Mellon University. She is a political and social historian of twentieth-century Germany. Her first book, German Social Democracy and the Rise of Nazism (University of North Carolina Press, 1993) analyzes the ways in which the organizational structures and political culture of the Social Democrats shaped their struggle against Nazism during the Weimar Republic. Her second book, Revenge of the Domestic: Women, the Family, and Communism in the German Democratic Republic (Princeton UP, 2007) offers a history of the relationship between ordinary women and the Communist state in East Germany from 1945 to the early 1970s.



  • South Africa’s Apartheid Past


Xolela Mangcu is Professor of Sociology at George Washington University and a past fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center. The Sunday Times has described Mangcu as “possibly the most prolific public intellectual in South Africa.” The director of the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS), Peter Vale, has referred to Mangcu as “the most interesting, certainly the most engaging voice amongst the new generation of public intellectuals in South Africa.”



  • Spain, the Franco Regime, and the Spanish Civil War


Soeren Brinkmann is Professor of History & Director of the Instituto de Estudios Europeos at Universidade del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia. Brinkmann has written numerous publications on memory culture in Spain, including Fight over memories. The Spanish Civil War in Politics and Society 1936-2006, which was translated from German.



James Grossman

James Grossman is Executive Director of the American Historical Association (AHA). Formerly Vice President for Research and Education at the Newberry Library, he has taught at the University of Chicago and the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration and A Chance to Make Good: African-Americans, 1900-1929, and project director and coeditor of The Encyclopedia of Chicago (2005; online edition, 2006).

For questions, please contact the conveners Dr. Sarah Beringer (beringer@ghi-dc.org), Bryan Hart (hart@ghi-dc.org) and PD Dr. Axel Jansen (a.jansen@ghi-dc.org).


April 17, 2019
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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