Intercultural Dialogues: Narratives of Memory, Migration and Xenophobia

Dr. Helga Hallgrimsdottir speaks about the Narratives of Memory, Migration, and Xenophobia project.


Led by Helga Hallgrimsdottir with Daniel Peter Biro, Charlotte Schallie, and Helga Thorson, this project examined how narratives of memory, migration and xenophobia are interlinked and shape current politics of migration and the European identity.

The overall goal was two-fold: to understand how memory politics and narratives of the past inform current political decisions, while also exploring how Holocaust Education, Education for Democratic Citizenship, and Human Rights Education can be deployed as agents of change and resistance to destabilizing and fracturing discourses. Our interdisciplinary research team (comprised of scholars in the Social Sciences, Humanities. and Music) explored how varied agents of memory - including the music we listen to, the (his)stories that we tell, and the political and social actions that we engage in - create narratives of the past that critically contest and challenge xenophobic and nationalistic renderings of Europe's prospects.

As part of this grant, a international graduate field school was held in the summer of 2017. "Narratives of memory, migration, and xenophobia in the European Union and Canada" took students to Hungary, France, Germany, and Canada; at each location, students reflected on how narratives (both written and musical) of the past inform the present context of migration and xenophobia, and on how each country is responding through its own conception of multiculturalism and refugee settlement policies. Organizing/participating universities include: Aix-Marseille Université (France), Universität Osnabruck (Germany), and Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary). 

The last event of the summer school was a two-day symposium held in August at the University of Victoria: "Intercultural dialogues: Narratives of memory, migration, xenophobia and European identity". During the symposium, students and academics presented, discussed and reflected on their recent tour of several historical sites within the EU and Canada pertaining to how the past informs the present within the context of migration and xenophobia. Musical compositions written specifically for this topic were presented, narrated and performed throughout the two day symposium.