Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies


Visiting Scholar: Vanessa Tautter

In January and February 2024, PhD student Vanessa Tautter will visit Utrecht University.

Vanessa is an oral historian with research interests in memory studies, historical cultural studies, family memory, transnational history, and the history of emotions. Their PhD project at the Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories at the University of Brighton explores personal memories of ‘implication’ in violent histories in the context of changes in public memory politics in Europe since the 1980s. Currently, they are a Junior Fellow Abroad at the International Research Centre for Cultural Studies, Vienna. They have been a visiting researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of Vienna and at the Queen’s University Belfast, and they conducted research at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

About Vanessa’s Project

My PhD project explores diverse memories of ‘implication’ in histories of violence in the context of memory changes in Europe since the 1980s. It uses oral histories conducted in Austria (on memories of Nazism and World War II) and Northern Ireland (on memories of the Northern Ireland conflict) as case studies to establish how those socialised in previously more dominant memory cultures compose their own and/or their family’s life stories and reflect on histories of ‘implication’ in relation to these wider cultural shifts, and how they negotiate politically charged meanings of the past between the ‘private’ and ‘public’. The project examines emotional responses to these shifts, which were often experienced as challenging to subjectivities, identities, and family histories, as well as memory work taking place in the private arena of the family. By doing so, the project seeks to understand political mobilisations of such ‘private’ memories and aims to create space for the critical study of heterogeneous cultures of implication and perpetration, and their meanings for society until today.

On February 20th, Vanessa will give a talk about their project, specifically on the topic of complicity, implication, and silences in family memory. More information can be found here.