Luisa Passerini argues that there have been in the past and there still are multiple and contradictory memories of Europe, which discourage us from relying on a normative (and easily essentialist) approach to memory. Using the terms by Jan Assmann, Passerini suggests that we need to combine forms of cultural memory and of communicative memory, in order to propose and transmit memories that correspond to the future Europes that we can imagine.
Gender is a crucial dimension of such memories, and affectivity an important component of the subjectivities capable of expressing them. While the specificity of a European culture of love has been historically Eurocentric, it has fostered utopias, now mostly forgotten, that can constitute new forms of such European memory.
Examples will be given from various periods of history, such as the early XIX century, and the interwar period and the last decades of the XX century. They will be based on literary and oral sources, as well as on private correspondence.
This lecture was given within the framework of the symposium “The Idea Of Europe: Memories and Postcolonial Europe”, aimed to discuss how Europe can be rethought from a postcolonial and postsecular memory production. The first part of the event focused on the concept and production of memory and ways in which the concept is constructed and contested; the second part focused around the topic of ‘Postcolonial Europe’, and aimed at developing an in-depth analysis of Occidentalism which requires a further understanding of the contemporary postsecular climate both within and beyond Europe’s borders.