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Memory Sites and Human Rights is a Course

Memory Sites and Human Rights

Ended May 8, 2018

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Full course description

Course Date:

Mar 12 - May 7, 2018


8 weeks


5 hrs/week



Course Type:



Certificate (free)


Why and how do we remember past atrocities and human rights violations? What is the role of memory sites in social reconstruction, transitional justice and democratisation? As witnesses and testimonies of abuse and horror, memory sites aspire to build reflection, critical memory and non-repetition. As "sites of conscience" drawing on history lessons, memory sites stimulate dialogue and healing, and inspire citizens' action. This MOOC focuses on the role of memory sites in their crucial interplay with historical trauma, the reconciliation process, the chosen methods for dealing with the past, as well as with nation building dynamics and the shaping of societal identity.

The course is articulated in three modules:

  • Module 1 focuses on the conceptual framework behind memory sites. Starting from a reflection on why and what is important to remember, it then moves to discuss how memories are shaped and who is involved in 'building memory'. It will show the linkage between history, memory and human rights and the role of memorialisation in reconciliation and social reconstruction.
  • Module 2 is dedicated to the objectives of memory sites, ranging from information and knowledge-sharing to the idea of providing evidence of abuses; from the role of memory sites for identity building/reconstruction and education to the ethical, legal and political challenges of the representation of horror.
  • Module 3 will focus on the aspects related to the 'design' of memory sites, thus dealing with format and content, use of testimonials and symbolic resources, artistic language and types of institutional approaches, stressing the artistic contextualisation vis-à-vis the visitors' reactions and empathetic sentiments for past atrocities and abuses.


At the end of this course, you’ll be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the interconnection and interdependence between history, memory, art and human rights.
  • Develop ability to explain "symbolic reparation" as part of the mechanisms of transitional justice and its contribution to the processes of reconciliation and democratisation.
  • Acquire knowledge of the influence of memory sites in shaping communities, identities, societies and nations.
  • Nurture critical thinking about the relational complexity of actors involved in creation of memory sites in diverse political and cultural context.
  • Develop ability to review, summarise, explain and interpret the role of ethnicity, religion and gender in the memorialization process.
  • Demonstrate capacity to assess, compare and review problems and challenges in creating memory sites.
  • Develop insights of the role of artistic language and institutional design on memorialization, democratisation and justice.
  • Acquire knowledge of "sites of conscience", their educational benefits and effects for discussions on contemporary human rights issues.

Target Audience: This course is designed for anyone around the world who is curious and motivated to learn more about human rights; history; memory; past, present and future challenges; transitional justice, truth and reconciliation; design, arts and architecture; civic action, engagement and social justice.

Course is funded by the European Commission and offered by the Global Campus of Human Rights coordinated by the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC).

Course Instructors

Maria Sondereguer

Maria Sondereguer

Professor and Researcher, Centre for the Study of History, Culture and Memory of the University of Quilmes, Argentina

Maria Sonderéguer has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Buenos Aires and a Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies in Latin American Social Studies from La Sorbonne in Paris. She is a full Professor at the University of Quilmes –PhD equivalent-- and Researcher at the Center for Studies in History, Culture and Memory of that University of Quilmes. She has been a Director of the "Emilio Mignone" Human Rights Center and she is currently the director of the Gender, Memory and Human Rights Observatory. She is also the co-director of a collected human rights publication. Read More.

She is a lecturer in several Postgraduate Programs in Argentina and a member of the Academic Committee of the Specialization in Gender, Public Policies and Society of the National University of Lanús. She is an Academic Committee member of the Masters`s in Human Rights and Democratization in Latin America and the Caribbean of the Global Campus of Human Rights.

Maria Sonderéguer lectures on Culture for Peace and Human Rights at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires, in the Chair of Peace Nobel Prize Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. She is member of the Human Rights Research Network of CONICET and the National Human Rights Secretariat.

She participated actively in the drafting of the National Plan against Discrimination of Argentina and she held the position of National Director of Training in Human Rights of the Secretariat of Human Rights of the Ministry of Justice of Argentina.

Sonderéguer has supervised research on recent history, memory, gender and human rights. Her latest books are: Crisis (1973-1976): From the intellectual committed to the revolutionary intellectual, re-printed in 2010; Gender and power: gender violence in armed conflicts and repressive contexts, published in 2012; and Memory and human rights. Continuity, validity and present of "Nunca màs", compiled with Alejandro Kaufman and published in 2016.

Francesco Privitera

Francesco Privitera

Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Bologna, Italy

Prof. Dr. Francesco Privitera is ERMA Vice-Director on behalf of the University of Bologna and Professor of Politics and History of Eastern Europe at University of Bologna, and president of the Istituto per l'Europa Centro-Orientale e Balcanica. Read More.

Prof. Privitera current teaching subjects are European Union Enlargement Politics towards East European Countries; Post-Communist Transition Processes in East, Central and Balkan Europe; History of Comparative Politics of Eastern Europe; History of Eastern Europe XIX-XX Centuries; Democracy and Human Rights in the framework of South East European Transition. Among other affiliations, Prof. Privitera is also visiting professor at Budapest Business School; New Bulgarian University, Sofia; McGill University, Toronto; University of Montreal; Warsaw University and University of Tallinn.

Veronica Gomez

Veronica Gomez

Chairperson of the Global Campus of Human Rights, University of San Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Dr. Veronica Gomez has been Global Campus Chairperson since 2015. She is Co-Director of the Master's Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Latin America and the Caribbean (LATMA), organised by the University of San Martin in Buenos Aires. Read More.

She has been a Principal Human Rights Specialist at the Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States in Washington DC (1998-2009) and a Senior Adviser at the Human Rights Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina (2010-2011).

Vesna Teršelić

Vesna Teršelić

Director of Documenta - Centre for Dealing with the Past, Croatia

Vesna Teršelić is the Director of Documenta - Centre for Dealing with the Past. She is member of the Regional Advisory Council of the Coalition for REKOM. She was awarded the Right Livelihood Award (1998), also known as an "Alternative Nobel Prize" and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (1997). Read More.

Vesna was born in Ljubljana and currently lives in Croatia. She studied at the Faculty of Philosophy and at the Faculty of Science and Mathematics in Zagreb. She is a co-founder of several environmental, women and peace organizations (Svarun, Green Action, Anti-war Campaign of Croatia, Centre for Women's Studies, Centre for Peace Studies etc). She has been involved in the organisation of public actions and petitions (Peace Gates, Zagreb, 1991), My Voice for the Rule of Law (Trg Bana Jelačića, Zagreb, 2001), and a protest and a petition signing for the removal of the monument to the commander of the Ustasha Black Legion (Slunj, 2001).