Berlin! (Part 1)

November 2, 2009

naomi-berlinI recently returned from Berlin where I was participating in the Eleventh Berlin Roundtables on Transnationality. The event, generously supported by the Irmgard Coninx Foundation, was amazing. The Foundation sponsored about 50 young scholars from around the world to participate in discussions centered around three themes: Memorials and Museums, Transitional Justice and Political Discourse. I presented my research on the IRS TRC in Canada and had the pleasure of hearing others present their work related to issues from Ghana, Cambodia, Peru, Japan, Israel, Yemin, and Cypress among others.

The Foundation also arranged for three guest lecturers:

Karl Schlögel (Professor of Eastern European History, European University Viadrina Frankfurt/Oder): “Divided Horizons, Divided Memories: The Year 1989 and Europe”

Albie Sachs (Judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa): “From Prison to Constitutional Court: The Changing Face of Justice in South Africa”

Daniel Libeskind (Architect, New York): “Counterpoint: The Architecture of Memory”

The lectures were great. Albie Sachs’ talk was particularly inspiring. Sachs was a freedom fighter in South Africa and during his exile in Mozambique, he survived a car bomb attack. He lost his right arm and partial vision in his eyes, but, as he said in his talk, retained his sense of humour and his will to fight. After the fall of apartheid, he returned to South Africa where President Mandela appointed him a judge on the newly formed constitutional court. After his talk, I had the opportunity to speak with him briefly – a truly generous and special man.

The Foundation has recently announced its next Call for Papers. The theme is Cultural Pluralism Revisited: Religious and Linguistic Freedoms. I encourage everyone to apply!

Next on my list: Washington, DC. I head there on Friday for the annual American Studies Association (ASA) Conference. My last conference of the year!

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