National Memory in a Time of Populism

May 23-25, 2019 |
St. Louis, MO
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In an effort to understand the new forms and importance of national memory in an era of growing populism and tribalism, this conference – cosponsored with Washington University in St. Louis, an Academy Affiliate – brought together leading experts from history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and political science, as well as figures from the policy world.

The re-emergence of nationalism around the world has caught most observers by surprise. After decades of assuming that globalization would be accompanied by a reduced commitment to national identity, we are confronted with new nationalist movements in places as diverse as Russia, the UK, Hungary, China, and the U.S. A key resource for pursuing these projects is national memory – looking back to a traumatic event or a time of greatness in order to mobilize a group in the present.

Henry L. Roediger, III (Washington University in St. Louis) and James V. Wertsch (Washington University in St. Louis), led an exploratory meeting at the Academy in December 2017 to plan this conference on the implications of psychological and neuroscientific research on collective memories held by people in nation states and their leaders.

The program commenced on Thursday, May 23 with welcoming remarks from Mark S. Wrighton, the Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, and a keynote address by Strobe Talbott. The program concluded on Saturday, May 25 with a Closing Keynote Address by historian David Blight.

View the full program.