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Seminar: James C. Scott on public historical memory (København)


Torsdag, 24. maj 2018 - 10:00 til 12:00


DIIS - Danish Institute for International Studies, Auditorium, Gl. Kalkbrænderi Vej 51A, København Ø

Every nation requires truthful, documented and comprehensive histories of its past. Those histories must include not only the achievements, victories, and glories of its past but also its failures, its crimes, and persecutions. Such histories alone can serve as an honest basis for national self-understanding, for independent scholarship and for raising a self-aware and critical generation of students and citizens.

At this seminar, Professor James C. Scott will present the argument that public historical memory must take the form of a popular or social movement that is broadly inclusive and a widely popular activity. Drawing on references to public memory initiatives in Germany, Russia and the United States, James C. Scott will particularly reflect on what a public memory agenda for Myanmar could look like. As a country that has experienced five decades of oppressive military rule and continuous atrocities against ethnic and religious minorities, there is a real risk that a public memory exercise in Myanmar will become a history of the Bamar majority. Not only the military, but also the elected government, under the de facto leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi since 2016, will unlikely write a history that reveals military misrule and oppression of minorities.

How can an honest history be written by and for the people of Myanmar? What are the current challenges and openings? In addressing these questions, James C. Scott will also reflect on the critical situation of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

This seminar is the first of two seminars held on the 24 May 2018 focusing on Myanmar. For more information about the second seminar, Fragile peace and transition in Myanmar, please follow this link


  • Helene Maria Kyed, Research Coordinator, DIIS
  • James C. Scott, Professor, Yale University
  • Finn Stepputat, Senior Researcher, DIIS


10.00-10.10: Welcome and introduction - Helene Maria Kyed

10.10-11.00: Public memories and Myanmar - Professor James C. Scott

11.00-11.10: Coffee break 

11.10-11.25: Discussant - Finn Stepputat

11.25-12.00: Q&A with the audience - Chaired by Helene Maria Kyed

Practical information

The seminar will be in English and live streamed on diis.dk.

Participation is free of charge, but registration is required. Please use our online registration form no later than Wednesday 23 May 2018 at 12.00 noon. Live stream does not require registration.

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