Department of Memory Studies
Department of Memory Studies
Memory has become a crucial research topic in humanities and social sciences in the course of the past few decades due to their comprehensive character. The rediscovery of memory is associated with the transformation of these disciplines, paradigm changes, and modernization processes; nevertheless, it also depends on technological progress and a sense of urgency to capture memories of surviving witnesses of crucial historical events and processes of the 20th century.
The Department of Memory Studies focuses on the ethnological research of memory as a specific source for the reflection of culture, a way of life connecting the past with the present, and a dynamic phenomenon that reflects social and cultural changes and transformation processes within the present-day society. The department focuses on the study of historical continuity and discontinuity, on the functions and relations of various memory media (such as oral tradition, manuscript, picture, print, and other mass media), on memory production and construction in direct interaction with the people involved as well as in the online spaces, on the temporal, spatial, and social dimensions of memory, on the institutional dimension of remembering, and on the understanding of memory as an instrument of the political practice of the present. The centre of attention is both the memory content (the representation of the past of both tangible and intangible character) and the memory processes and media, as well as the culture of remembering.
The scholarly activities of the department focus primarily on the study of forms of intersubjective shared memory. In the field of cultural memory, the department studies such traces of the past that transcend the memory of individuals shared with contemporaries, and such forms of behaviour that aim to preserve these traces. In the field of communicative memory, the department predominantly uses methods of oral history, in order to study the formation and transmission of generational and intergenerational issues, the understanding of everyday life, and the interpretation of historical processes and events of the 20th century. Dealing with the study of politics of memory and the culture of remembering, the department focuses on the public use of the past and ways in which this use becomes part of the collective consciousness of the whole society or a particular social group. Finally, in the field of landscape memory, the department deals with the components of nature and culture that contribute to an important role of landscape as a basic frame of human life and a chronicle of events and stories.
Current and future research agenda:
- Research of family memory and intergenerational transmission
- Culture of remembering of selected social groups
- Transformation of ethnic and cultural traditions within present-day society
- Customary and ritual culture and festivities
- Identity formation aspects of memory and forgetting
- The past in contemporary narrative culture and on-line communication
- Cultural stereotypes and mental images
- Landscape memory
Traces of human ingenuity (principal investigator, program NAKI II, Czech Ministry of Culture)
The goal of the project is
a) to locate and document endangered small technical, proto-industrial and agricultural heritage sites in open landscapes including the associated infrastructure and the necessary knowledge for their operation with regards to their role in the formation of local culture, history, landscape, and identity
b) to raise public awareness about the importance of these heritage sites for local culture, history, landscape and identity and promote a greater interest among the general public in their conservation.
The research will be carried out in the former Rožnov estate as an example of a relatively compact economic and productive unit encompassing lowland and highland villages representing different stages and types of settlement formation with numerous handcrafts and valuable heritage sites. Thanks to the activities of the National traditional culture and Open-Air Museum in Rožnov p. R., this area is also characterized by a strong support for traditional cultural forms and practices which are reflected in the identity of the local population and the perception of the region by visitors. The results of the project will bring new information about the region but also offer more general conclusions for the protection, renewal and presentation of this type of cultural heritage elsewhere.
Project website: www.stopyumu.cz (in Czech only)
Folk song and dance of the Czech lands - digital system for presentation and preservation
Collection funds of the Brno seat of the Ethnological Institute comprise films and audiovisual recordings collected during field research.
Basis of the video library consists mainly of copies of 16mm films from the original film library – currently already a closed film collection, what was handed over to the National Film Archive in 2001 and is accessible in Brno for study purposes only. To learn more about this part of the collection fund, click here.
Section of films on ethnological topics comprises short documentary recordings and scientific short films by Vlasta Svobodová from the years 1969 to 1985¨concentrating primarily on traditional folk production.
Folkloristic part of the film library is a collection of both silent and sound films that document mainly folk dance in Moravia nad Silesia, but also in Bohemia and abroad, in that case mostly in Slovakia. Collection of films about dance was created between the years 1956 and 1966 thanks to the long-time and systematic professional interest of Zdenka Jelínková. It comprises films that were shot for academic purposes (scientific films), films created for pedagogical purposes (instructional films), popular science films and also documentaries and live action films on different topics, that nevertheless include also folk dance. Some films include not only folk dance, but also children's plays.
A substantial part of the video library is constituted by video recordings that have been made systematically during field research since 1990 (until 2013 by Jiřina Kosíková, from 2013 by Michal Pavlásek). Audiovisual recording is used as a technique and method in ethnological field research and in creating of systematic video documentation as a material for academic analysis. The recordings focus on contemporary both traditional and new customs, life and culture of minorities, research personalities and individual folklore bearers and interpreters. Video documentaries focus also on current social phenomena, as ex. the so-called migration crisis via recordings of interviews with its direct participants (western and southeastern Europe) and depiction of refugee camps and transit places on the so-called Balkan migration route (Greece, Northern Macedonia).
Edited versions of video recordings are used in conference presentations, as complementary material for specialized lectures and as teaching material at the Department of European Ethnology at the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University in Brno, film loops make part of exhibitions, etc.
Short documentary films (ex. films Daj bože što je dobro, Moje války, Druhé Vojvodovo: myslet obrazem, Hledání východu, Masa) were screened on both documentary exhibitions and international festivals of documentary and ethnological films (Antropofest Praha, MUSAIONFILM Uherský Brod, Academia Film Olomouc, ETNOFILM Čadca, International Festival of Ethnological Film Belgrade, Days of Ethnographic Film Ljubljana, Moscow International Visual Anthropology Festival, Kratovo Ethnographic Film Festival) and also in audiovisual sections of big international anthropological and ethnological conferences and congresses (ex. IUAES/International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences Congress, SIEF/The International Society for Ethnology and Folklore Congress).
Films and audiovisual recordings are preserved in formats VHS, S-VHS, Hi8, mini DV,
CD-ROM and DVD. Analog video recordings are digitalised and together with digital video recordings archived in external data storages.
Kosíková, Jiřina: Videodokumentace na brněnském pracovišti Etnologického ústavu AV ČR. Český lid 87, 2000, p. 249–261.
Kosíková, Jiřina: Lidové tance a dětské hry ve filmotéce Etnologického ústavu AV ČR. Filmografie. Brno, Ethnological Institute CAS, 1999.