Ambivalent Legacies

Ambivalent Legacies: Memory and Amnesia in Post-Habsburg and Post-Ottoman Cities

Conference of the Max Planck Research Group "Empires of Memory"

April 26-28, 2017 | Library Hall at MPI-MMG, Göttingen


The empires that once defined the political geography of Europe are no more. One cannot meet a Prussian, Romanov, Habsburg, or Ottoman today; these dusty categories of affiliation have ceded to myriad national identities. Yet it would be mistaken to assume that Europe’s bygone empires have become mere relics of history. Imperial pasts continue to inspire nostalgia, identification, pride, anxiety, skepticism, and disdain in the present. The afterlives of empires as objects of memory exceed historical knowledge, precisely because these afterlives shape and recast the present and the future. Simultaneously, present- and future-oriented imperatives accentuate imperial pasts in selective ways, yielding new configurations of post-imperial amnesia as well as memory. Our conference brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars working on post-imperial legacies in relation to a variety of specific cities, including Vienna, Istanbul, Budapest, Sarajevo, Trieste, Thessaloniki, Zagreb, and Belgrade. Our contributors pursue the politics and cultures of memory in relation to two general, interrelated questions: What are the effects of imperial legacies on contemporary cities? and, How do present-day urban processes reshape the forms of post-imperial memory and forgetting?