Remembering Activism: The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe


ReAct was an ERC-funded research project at Utrecht University in the period January 2019-June 2024. The research has been completed, but please keep an eye out for announcements of new publications and other events. 
Mass demonstrations make the headlines. But how are they remembered when they are no longer news? And how does the cultural memory of earlier movements play into later ones? In Remembering Activism (ReAct), we address these questions. We focus on how the memory of civil resistance has been produced in documentaries, memoirs, commemorations, archiving projects as well as in the visual and literary arts. We believe that insight into the role of cultural memory is needed for a full understanding of civil resistance in today’s world. Since we also believe in the importance of a long-term view subprojects deal not only with recent developments but also reach back in time to the nineteenth century.


Our aim is to provide the first in-depth account of the remembering and forgetting of civil resistance in Europe which also has relevance for our understanding of movements elsewhere. We will be examining continuities and changes in how protest has been depicted in different media regimes; looking critically at the role of texts, images, and commemorative practices in conveying the memory of protest to later generations; and reflecting on the ways this memory feeds back into later movements at home and abroad.


ReAct has been made possible by an ERC Advanced Grant (2019-2024) awarded to Prof. Ann Rigney, Utrecht University, under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 788572).