An introduction from the Director of the research Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories
The Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories is a unique centre for historical research located at the University of Brighton. Our uniqueness stems from three principles that shape our approach and the way we work.
Unlike more narrowly-focused research centres, Memory, Narrative and Histories embraces the full spectrum of practices developed to make sense of 'the past', of historical processes, and of temporal experience.
Our investigations range from oral history, life writing and testimony, to forms of cultural representation in the popular media, literature and the creative arts; from memory and commemoration to the creation and use of archives and collections; and from scholarship in cultural, social and political history to local and community history and public heritage. This eclectic breadth of interest enables us to ask questions about the interconnections and synergies that exist between these practices and the cultural circulation of meanings that result.
The Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories promotes interdisciplinary research enquiry and dialogue. We bring together researchers who approach their mutual interests from diverse angles, utilising research methods, concepts and theories from history, cultural studies and memory studies, and drawing also on, inter alia, literary, visual and screen studies and narratology to explore forms of representation in the past and about the past; on social anthropology and cultural geography to address relations between temporality and space/place; on psychoanalysis and sociology to situate understandings of the past, present and future within structures of selfhoods and society.
Our interdisciplinary research is organised principally, but not exclusively, according to themes which link individuals with cognate interests: in racism, Empire, colonialism and their contestation; in war, conflict and 'post-conflict' transformation; in health, illness and recovery; in cultural heritage; and in transnational histories and memories.
The research centre aspires to produce research which is transformative with respect to political violence and oppression, social inequality and injustice. In this, we recognise a necessary relationship between academic scholarship and the many kinds of historical knowledge created outside the academy, by artists, activists, curators, teachers and other professionals, and by communities and social groups in the course of everyday life. Our centre affords a space for connection and conversation between people from different locations who share our conviction that history and memory are profoundly important in present circumstances and in relation to needs and imaginings of the future.
Membership of the research centre is open to all University of Brighton staff and postgraduate researchers with relevant interests, with Associate Membership an option for colleagues outside the University. We welcome enquiries for supervision from prospective doctoral students – our PhD members play a crucial role in the vibrancy of the centre’s research culture – and for engagement and collaboration from academics and practitioners; and we invite contact from anyone who is simply interested to attend one of our programme of public events.
Professor Graham Dawson