Andrew Herscher
From the Politics of Memory to the Memory of Politics

Andrew Herscher's current research deals with the modernist monuments of the former Eastern Europe. These monuments have been assimilated into post-socialist contexts by being re-framed in new and different categories. “Ruin” and “heritage” are perhaps most common of these re-framings. In the case of the ruin, the socialist monument has become socialist waste, while in the case of heritage, the socialist monument has become the national monument. These re-framings are even more pronounced outside the former socialist states. Recently, images of socialist monuments have begun to circulate through global visual culture as science fiction, with extra-terrestrial worlds invoked as figurative locations for monuments that emerged in and for a disappeared and largely unremembered Second World.

The post-socialist appearance of ruined, nationalized, and other-worldly socialist monuments can each be understood as post-political phenomena; each register the disappearance of struggles for emancipation and equality in contemporary liberal democracy. To return to the socialist monument as a site of collective inquiry, desire, or contestation, then, can open a space for a memory of politics.

The socialist monument cannot be remembered as such within the contemporary post-socialist moment. When the socialist monument is excluded from the post-socialist present rather than destroyed to fit into that present, what becomes newly visible in the monument’s history? How does that history open up new futures? And what can a monument do to participate in such openings?

The discussion afterwards will be moderated by the Chair of IZK, Prof. Milica Tomić.

Andrew Herscher <br/> From the Politics of Memory to the Memory of Politics