The network’s output is structured around three workshops, two half-day schools’ workshops, and a high-profile international conference:


Workshop 1: The range and function of testimony in cultural forms (10 November 2016, University of Birmingham).

The event took place on the 10 November 2016 at the University of Birmingham and focused on answering three broad questions:

  1. Why do individuals turn to culture in order to tell their stories?
  2. What can the writing of testimonial literature, the making of a documentary film, or bringing historical witnesses on stage do that other forms of bearing witness cannot?
  3. How does this testimony relate to concepts of reconciliation and justice at an individual and societal level?

See here for a report of the day!


10.30-11.00 Introduction to the network (Sara Jones)

11.00-13.00 Short ‘position papers’ responding to one or more of the research questions presented by: Prof. Roger Woods (Nottingham), Prof. Bill Niven (Nottingham Trent), Prof. Alison Lewis (Melbourne), Eugenio Szwarcer and Carles Fernández of the documentary theatre group La Conquesta del pol sud, and the Romanian novelist Carmen-Francesca Banciu

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-17.00 Open discussion of the research questions structured around 3 readings (circulated in advance)

17.00-17.30 Summing up (theme leads)

On the 9 November Carmen-Francesca Banciu will give a reading from her work at the University of Birmingham and in collaboration with the Institute for German Studies’s current DAAD-funded research network “(Not) Made in Germany: Imagining Germany from the Outside”.


Workshop 2: Methodological approaches to the use of cultural forms of testimony in understanding the past (8 March 2017, National Holocaust Centre and Museum)

The event took place at the National Holocaust Centre and Museum on the 8 March 2017 and was framed by the following questions:

What methods do educators use to incorporate effectively cultural forms of testimony in helping students understand the past?

  1. How can and do museums and educators approach both biographical and literary/fictional forms of testimony in understanding the past?
  2. How can cultural forms of testimony, especially in the museum, function as a method of providing victims with symbolic justice or reparation?
  3. How can one do justice to the complexity and ambiguity of cultural sources while using them as testimony?
  4. What are the opportunities and challenges for educators, museums and other producers of culture in both using and creating testimony?

See here for a report of the day!


10.00-10.30     Arrival & Refreshments

10.30-10.40     Welcome – Sara Jones

10.40     Papers from Theme Leads: James Griffiths – a joint paper with Carole Turner and Martin Dawson; Gary Mills; Alan Marcus; Eva Kovacs

11.30 -11.45    Break

11.45-12.45     Guided tour of the Journey exhibition

12.45-13.45     Lunch (leisurely lunch and visit the Holocaust exhibition & Memorial Gardens)

13.45-15.00     4 Discussion of the four framing questions: This will move beyond museums and the Holocaust and will broaden to look at what happens beyond the museum. Participants will be placed in small groups and rotate. Small-group discussions based around guided questions.

15.00-16.00    Forever Project – presentation and discussion [Matt Boswell – facilitator]

16.00-16.15     Break

16.15-17.15     Whole-group discussion facilitated by session leaders focused on guided questions

17.15-17.30     Summary by theme leads and thanks


Workshop 3: The politics of culture as testimony (22 May, University of Nottingham, Room A11, Highfield House)

Theme Leads: Sara Jones, Alan McCully, Codruta Pohrib

10.00-10.30: Arrival and registration, tea.

10.30-10.45: Welcome – Sara Jones

10.45-11.30: Chair Roger Woods: three 10-minute position papers from theme leads, followed by discussion. Position papers will focus on the following questions:

  1. How are cultural forms of testimony used and misused for political goals in the present?
  2. How is culture as testimony incorporated into processes of transitional justice carried out at a political level (e.g., truth and parliamentary commissions in South Africa, Romania or Germany)?
  3. What status does cultural testimony have before the Law and what is its potential to feature in and enrich legal proceedings?

11.30-12.00 Coffee break

12.00-13.00 Chair: Sara Jones

Discussion of key terms relating to the network and in the context of the methodologies/approaches network members use in their research/cultural expression.

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.00  Chair: Alan McCully, The problem of the perpetrator.

Presentation and discussion of Epilogues Workshop Education Programme by developers Stephen Gargan and Jim Keys (both Gaslight Productions)

Key questions: Can perpetrators be witnesses? What is the value of perpetrator testimony (in truth seeking, reconciliation etc.)? What are the risks and opportunities of giving perpetrators a voice? (How) can perpetrator testimony be used in education and culture?

15.00-15.30 Coffee break

15.30-16.45 Small group discussion and feedback to plenary, focused on the core research questions.

17.00-17.30 Summing up (theme leads)


Conference: ‘Culture and its Uses as Testimony: Interdisciplinary Approaches’, 11-12 April 2018, University of Birmingham

Click here for the call for papers.

Click here for the provisional programme.

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