"Places That Can Make Us Grow"—Empirical Reconstructions of how Meaning is Created in the Context of the Opening of Two Norwegian Memorial Sites

Claudia Lenz, Peter Schröder


This article is the result of an interdisciplinary endeavor to study the topic of historical consciousness, in which  theoretical and methodological approaches of memory research (an interdisciplinary discipline in itself) and conversation analysis (a discipline integrating sociological and linguistic concepts) are combined. The study was empirically based on interviews with visitors of the opening ceremonies for the Holocaust Centre in Oslo and the Falstad-Centre near Trondheim (a memorial site and human rights center). One of our aims in the article is to demonstrate that historical consciousness can best be traced in actual social interaction and how the conversation analytic approach can be employed to make it accessible.

We begin the article by giving an overview of the public memory culture related to the Holocaust and the German occupation of Norway and by reflecting on the function of memorial sites. This part establishes the frame for the microanalytic reconstructions of two interview segments. Through our analysis, we try to shed light upon the interplay and tensions between official memory culture and individual orientations and interpretations.


memory culture; memory politics; historical consciousness; intercultural communication; conversation analysis; discourse analysis; social interaction; positioning in conversation; cooperation in conversation; identity; interview

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-19.3.2778

Copyright (c) 2018 Peter Schröder, Claudia Lenz

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