Centers in Istanbul and Amman to Host Global Think-Ins

April 02, 2015

Columbia University’s Committee on Global Thought is going on the road again this month, taking its Global Think-Ins to Istanbul and Amman to extend the conversation about the national and international political tensions in public memory.


April 16 – Istanbul
Rectorate Conference Hall, Boğaziçi University
Global Think-In: Time and Trauma - Transgenerational Memories of Mass Suffering

April 17 – Istanbul
Studio-X Istanbul
Panel Discussion: Time and Trauma – Memory in Global Perspective

April 18 – Amman
Columbia Global Centers | Middle East
Global Think-In: Time and Trauma - Memory in a Global Perspective

The Think-In series is part of the committee’s project The Politics of Memory in Global Context, now in its fifth year led by historian Carol Gluck, Columbia’s George Sansom Professor of History and professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures. The events in Istanbul and Amman follow the first international Think-In the committee held in Paris in January at Columbia Global Centers | Europe, “Remembering Across Time: Psychological Studies of the Two World Wars in Transgenerational Memory.”

The project is a Franco-American collaboration in cooperation with the Global Policy Initiative. Historian Denis Peschanski, of the French National Center for Scientific Research and the University of Paris I, is the director in France.

Gluck says the aim of the ongoing conversations is to bring together scholars in the social sciences and humanities, neuroscientists and psychologists, and curators of historical and memorial museums to explore the relation between individual and collective remembering and the politics of national and transnational memory in the world today.

“Working together,” she says, “social science and neuroscience can untangle interpretive knots that neither can do on its own, especially in regard to the relation between individual and collective memory.”

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Q&A with Professor Carol Gluck

Q – Why have you chosen to base the next Politics of Memory event in Istanbul and Amman? In what ways do perspectives from Istanbul and Amman add to the Politics of Memory in Global Context project? 

Carol GluckGluck – The theme remains but the topics change as we move our project to different locations: hence, the World Wars in Paris, the Armenian genocide in Istanbul, the multiple depredations in the Middle East in Amman.

In October we will be at the Global Center in Beijing, tackling what Chinese and Koreans call Japan’s “history problem” – official views of Japanese actions during World War II in Asia. We take our title from the joint Sino-Japanese communique of last November which pledged “To Face History Squarely.” We’ll see how “squarely” things turn out.

In each case we have participants from different places, bringing perspectives on other topics: in Beijing, other “history problems,” such as those in Poland and Russia, for example. In Istanbul and Amman, our speakers come from France, Japan, South Korea, Lebanon, Turkey, and the United States, a representative sample of global thinking.

Q – The panels for each of these events include people from diverse fields. How do you envision each of these conversations coming together?

Gluck – The cross-disciplinary talk really works now. We’ve been doing it long enough for the social scientists and neuroscientists to understand one another’s language and appreciate one another’s perspectives. This kind of connection is the direction in which memory studies are going; we were early to the party but there’s still a long was to go. We are fortunate that Columbia has some of the most important cognitive neuroscientists and psychology working on memory.

On the museum side, curators pay far more attention to scholars than they once did, but the demands of public history are often contradictory and always political, as we saw during the years of work on the 9/11 museum: the pressures from the families, the rescuers, the politicians made it impossible to present a narrative that could be anything other than partial and patriotic. But my goodness, they did try!

Read the rest of the interview here