Cultural Memory in Focus: Designing a Travel/Study Program for the Former Yugoslavia

This report details work done in Fall 2017 to research and design a new travel/study program to Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia in summer 2018. This UCB faculty-led program is entitled “Balkan Bridges: Contested Histories, Shared Commitments” and treats ongoing legacies of war, as well as exemplary moments of peace, in the former Yugoslavia over the long 20th century. In the first section of the paper, I lay out recent scholarship on the pedagogical functions of short travel/study programs that take cultural studies (rather than language teaching) approaches. Next, I articulate the notion of cultural memory that organizes the course theoretically and programmatically. Finally, I detail the contours of the proposed program, which concentrates specifically on how historical memories consistently dominate current debates about individual and group identities in the region. I make the case that the program’s explicit focus on cultural objects – literature and film, museums and galleries, monuments and cemeteries – allows students to understand most effectively the relationship between history and memory by foregrounding the vital role culture plays in shaping social memory.

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