Invitation to participate in

Re-Connect / Re-Collect: Crossing the Divides through Memories of Cold War Childhoods* funded by KONE Foundation, Finland**

Project team (link)

*Twitter: @CrossDivides
Facebook: @memoriesofsocialistchildhood

“Crossing Divides” by glenasena is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Did you grow up during the Cold War, on either side of the divides, or have you experienced (post)socialist society during childhood? Would you be willing to share your childhood memories? If so, we would like to invite you to participate in a memory workshop to share and analyze memory stories about your own childhood experiences around the theme ‘crossing divides’. The word ‘divide’ can signal Cold War divisions of the world but also divisions along real or imagined borders and boundaries that are continuously drawn and redrawn along multiple historical or emerging lines.

We are a team of three researchers, each with multiple ties to locales around the globe but currently working in Finland and the USA. Our most recent project entails an international collaboration between researchers and artists to connect the public across geopolitical, historical, and sociocultural divides through memories of childhood. It addresses concerns related to the rise of new walls and divisions in Europe and the world. Exactly thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, rising nationalism, right-wing populism, and legacies of the Cold War ideology continue to partition the world, heightening tensions and halting dialogues. As our previous research on childhood memories in the era of state-socialisms demonstrated, everyday experiences of childhood, while being shaped by the existing geopolitical divisions, still managed to cross these divides and thus escaped imposed boundaries. Childhood experiences (re)told in memory stories reveal connections among different societies in everyday life.

Childhood memory stories aid in (re)creating dialogues across the multiple divisions – geopolitical, economic, cultural and generational – inherited from the Cold War and currently redefined in the new world ‘order’. We intend to make connections between the Cold War pasts and the anxieties and fears of the present even more explicit by including in our project one of the most politicized borders in the world – the border between the US and Mexico.

We aim to engage participants who were children during the Cold War on either side of the divide, as well as the next generation born around 1989, in these memory workshops. Through our collaboration with artists, memory stories will be mobilized for the production of theater performances and traveling exhibitions to inspire broader dialogues. We hope that our memory workshops and creative performances will manage to link seemingly unrelated people, objects, ideas, experiences, and sensations into vast webs of interconnections – in new and unexpected ways.

To create memory stories and connect them through scholarly analysis, we invite you to work with us in memory workshops first online and then by meeting in one of four locations:

1. Berlin, Germany – 9-11th of September 2019

Susanne Gannon, Western Sydney University, Australia
Kathrin Hörschelmann, Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde, Germany
Zsuzsa Millei, Tampere University, Finland
Nelli Piattoeva, Tampere University, Finland
Iveta Silova, Arizona State University, USA

2. Riga, Latvia – 13-15th September 2019

Zsuzsa Millei, Tampere University, Finland
Iveta Silova, Arizona State University, USA

3. Helsinki, Finland – 9-11th of October 2019

Zsuzsa Millei, Tampere University, Finland
Nelli Piattoeva, Tampere University, Finland
Madina Tlostanova, Linköping University, Sweden
Ioana Țîștea, Tampere University, Finland

4. Mexico/US border (location to be determined) – 27-29th of October 2019.

Inés Dussel, International Academy of Education, Mexico City, Mexico
Iveta Silova, Arizona State University, USA

Together or individually, we will analyze memories produced during these workshops by drawing on methodologies of autobiography, autoethnography, and collective biography (Davies & Gannon, 2006). The scholarly texts produced will be published in edited volume(s) and/or special issues in journals, as well as shared through blogs. We will also create a living archive (anarchive) from these memories for the broader public and further research. During the workshops, translations will be provided in German-English (Berlin workshop), Finnish-English (Helsinki workshop), Latvian – Russian-English (Riga workshop), and Spanish-English (Mexico workshop).

For the memory workshops, we are looking for participants, who:

  • Work on their PhD or researchers at any career level AND / OR
  • Artists who are keen to engage in artistic and academic work with their memories
  • Have experienced (post)socialist society during childhood OR experienced childhood during the Cold War in a non-socialist country
  • Are interested in reflecting on their everyday experiences of childhood in relation to the theme: Crossing Divides.

Participants are asked to:

  • Participate in three (3), two-hour long online meetings during March and April 2019 and as preparation for those meetings to read articles shared by the project team on autobiography, autoethnography, and collective biography methodologies, and on divides and childhood.
  • Travel to an onsite workshop held at the selected location.
  • Bring objects/artifacts from their childhood and / or artwork associated with their memories.
  • Pay for travel, including visa when necessary (accommodation and meals are provided by the project). Please note that we have a travel bursary for those in need but only available in limited numbers (please enquire). Our project also aspires to limit greenhouse gas emission, therefore we encourage participants to avoid air travel whenever possible and we are prepared to pay for the difference in cost if needed. Hope you find one of the locations easily accessible by land travel.

During the onsite workshop (held in one of the four locations), participants will:

  • Create their own memory stories and academically analyse those to learn about (post)socialist societies and everyday life. (We will work together to develop these skills through online and onsite workshops so no experience is required).

After the workshops, participants will:

  • Contribute an article or chapter (individually or co-authored) based on the analysis of their memories to an edited book or a journal special issue. (Contributions will be also sought for our website, such as blogs, and other public engagements.)
  • Agree to publicly share memories as a part of an anarchive, which would serve as a source for a theatre play and a travelling exhibition.

If you are interested, please fill out the online application form, by clicking on this link. On the form you will be asked to share the following information with us:

  • Introduce yourself (your childhood background, motivation to participate in this research project, previous experience in working with memories, although this is not essential)
  • Research career level (PhD student, early career academic, mid-career, advanced) OR, if you are an artist, the type of artistic work you engage with
  • Your availability for online meetings during April-May (three two hours long meetings during which we will discuss readings about memory work, autobiography, autoethnography, and collective biography, as well as discuss the theme – divisions and connections across the divides – and write one short memory story (note that some preparation is required).
  • Availability for a three-day workshop, designating your preferred possible location/time.
  • Contact information.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us: Zsuzsa (, Iveta (, Nelli (

About organisational matters, please email to Ioana at

Kind regards,

Zsuzsa, Iveta, Nelli and Ioana

The deadline for applications is 15th of March 2019. We will inform participants by the end of March 2019 about acceptance and the next steps.

To stay updated with information on our project, visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

**Kone Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation with a mission to make the world a better place by advancing bold initiatives in research and the arts.
Twitter and Facebook: @KoneenSaatio
Hashtags: #boldmaker ‪#rohkeatekijä