SPEME - Questioning Traumatic Heritage: Spaces of Memory in Europe, Argentina, Colombia, develops a joint program of exchanges between academic researchers-working on memory, trauma and heritage-and non-academic professionals-working in the fields of memory museums and sites of memory-between Italy, The Netherlands, Argentina and Colombia.

The final conference

Photos of the conference participants

About Us

The project takes as its specific object of investigation a various array of spaces of memory, such as museums, former detention camps and sites of commemoration, to investigate how various traumatic pasts can be preserved and transmitted through space, and which kind of innovative actions might both improve knowledge of the past and serve as an opening to actual issues and new social subjects. The international and inter-sectorial network developed by the project makes possible transfers of knowledge, both between difficult past heritages in different historical and geographical contexts (Europe and Latin America) and between academic researchers and museum curators. The different and complementary competences of these institutions promote are aimed at fueling powerful knowledge exchanges at the theoretical, methodological and practical levels, which has few or no precedents in the field of memory and museum studies.

Through a rich combination of staff meetings, theoretical seminars, training workshops, fieldworks and conferences, SPEME project will increase competences and skills of both academic and non academic partners, as well as facilitate the development of innovative and creative actions involving new social actors (civil society, new generations, minority groups, refugees, and others) and addressing actual questions, from Human Rights to post-conflict reconciliation practices.


Alma Mater- University of Bologna

The University of Bologna coordinates SPEME. The members of its research team belong to the Department of Arts (DAR), the Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies and to the Department of Architecture.
The Department of Arts and the Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies are two interdisciplinary research structures combining (the first) communication studies, semiotics, and socio-anthropological approaches, the second philosophical perspectives, media studies and semiotics. The researchers coordinating SPEME project, with first Patrizia Violi and then Anna Maria Lorusso as PI, and Cristina Demaria as senior investigator, are semiotic scholars who have founded TRAME, a Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Cultural Memory and Traumas that actively contributes with publications, conferences and public events to debates on memory and memory studies, focusing on how collective traumas affecting conflict and post-conflict environments are inscribed in different texts, genres cand spaces through which they are re-elaborated and remembered by a community. The Centre promotes an interdisciplinary approach trying, also, to meet urgent social needs.

Coordinator team: Patrizia Violi, Anna Maria Lorusso, Cristina Demaria
Info: mariopanico21@gmail.com
Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (University of Amsterdam – UVA)

AHM is an interdisciplinary research school committed to the analysis of the remnants and narratives of the past in the present, as well as of the remaking of pasts into heritage, memory and material culture. The School fosters a dynamic, interdisciplinary and transnational approach across several fields, including heritage and memory studies, art and cultural studies, museum studies, conversation and restoration, archaeology, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, media and information studies, religious studies, book studies, literary studies, cultural history, European studies and digital heritage and humanities. AHM seeks to integrate all branches of research focusing on the material and intangible remains of the past, the reciprocal relations between objects and meanings, and the dynamics of memory, from diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives, concept-oriented, object-oriented and user-oriented approaches. The integrative, interdisciplinary and critical approach of problematising, conceptualising and analysing heritage and memory acts, and material culture practices, policies and politics on all levels in Europe and beyond is unique to AHM. Prof. Dr. Ihab Saloul will lead the UvA part of the SPEME project at the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM). The group of researchers belonging to the SPEME project include AHM senior scholars and PhD students.

Coordinator: Ihab Saloul
Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL), Bogotà – Instituto de Estudios en Comunicación y Cultura

SPEME-Colombia and ONALME are the initiative of the Grupo Colombiano de Análisis del Discurso, and of some students of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Their objective is to identify in the media narratives, the processes and practices of memory activation in the post-conflict framework and its impact on peace-building. The analysis of media narratives that represent the conflict and the post-conflict situation, allows us to understand how events of the past are represented and constructed; to whom voice is given directly and indirectly, and what are the effects that derive from mass mediated discourses in the lives of citizens. In addition, it will promote the construction of memories as a condition for peace in Colombia. The ritualization of memories, silence and forgetfulness create spaces to reflect on multiple interpretations of a painful past, therefore, we question how the past is symbolically constructed in the present and what the contributions towards the future of a culture of peace are. We also ask ourselves how to contribute to the construction of memories, through the analysis of media narratives and the critical look of violence.

Coordinator: Neyla Pardo
Instituto Interdisciplinario de Estudios de Género – Facultad de Filosofía y Letras – UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires)

The University of Buenos Aires is a Beneficiary Institution of SPEME Program with residence in the Interdisciplinary Institute of Gender Studies (IIEGE-UBA). The research team is coordinated by Lizel Tornay. Their members are: Victoria Álvarez (postdoctoral researcher), Fabricio Laino (Phd student), Javiera Robles Recabarren (Phd student) and Mariana Paganini (Master student). Lizel Tornay and Victoria Álvarez direct the Program FILO:CyT Violations of human rights in Argentina’s recent past: memories of women (1976-present).
The research of the team is mainly focussed on the traumatic past in Argentina and the Southern Cone, with particular attention to: the hierarchical gender relations in detention centres, the building of social listening frameworks, the analysis of different stages of research and restitution of kidnapped children; the intergenerational transmission of memories in former clandestine detention centres; and issues concerning gender and political militancy during dictatorial governments.

Coordinator: Lizel Tornay
logo H401 foundation

H401 is a private foundation located in Amsterdam in the Herengracht building of late artist Gisèle d’Ailly. It is a place where research, art and dialogue come together to investigate the human condition with all its contradictions. The central question is how we as a society, organizations and individuals with layered pasts want to deal with the present and the future. H401 works in  collaboration with local and international partner institutions, with artists, thinkers, scholars and scientists. Academic and artistic research  goes hand in hand with performative and participatory research,- with residences, exhibitions, events, think tanks and publications.

Coordinator: Lars Ebert
Fossoli Camp Foundation

The Fossoli Camp Foundation was established in January 1996 by the Municipality of Carpi and by the Association Amici del Campo di Fossoli e del Museo Monumento al Deportato. The heritage of the Foundation includes also an important Museum dedicated to political and racial deportees, an archive and the old Synagogue of Carpi. Since its creation, the Fossoli Camp Foundation has been committed to enhance the historical and civil heritage of the Fossoli’s former concentration and transit camp, through the preservation of a complex memory space. The objectives of the non-profit Foundation are also the promotion of historical-documentary research on the Fossoli Camp in its various occupation phases; the planning and activation of initiatives of an educational and scientific nature, aimed in particular at schools and young people in the areas of specific competence to the Foundation, as well as human rights and intercultural education.
The Fossoli Camp Foundation with its director, Marzia Luppi, and with Francesca Schintu, is a member of SPEME. The main goal is to produce, through the conservation and enhancement of a complex memory space, different reflections not only about our past, but also about our contemporary society, using art and education as privileged tools.

Coordinator: Marzia Luppi
Info: fondazione.fossoli@carpidiem.it
Museo de la Memoria y de los Derechos Humanos (ex-ESMA)

The Museo Sitio de Memoria ESMA (Museum Site of Memory – ESMA) is a public institution of the Argentina State established in 2015 in the former Casino de Oficiales de la Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada (ESMA). The Casino worked as a clandestine detention, torture and extermination centre during the 1976-1983 dictatorship. Around 5000 men and women have been kept in these premises, the majority of which had been murdered in the later defined “vuelos de la morte” (death flights). Today it is an historical monument, an actual legal “evidence” of the Argentine state terrorism that is being used in the still ongoing trials for the human rights crimes committed during the dictatorship.
The Museum’s main mission is to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the violation of human rights committed by the State in order to prevent its repetition, and to foster an intra-generational dialogue in the present and for the future.
Amongst its main activities are the ever growing number of young visitors from middle schools; the organization of temporary exhibitions, workshops, lectures and round tables exploring different languages and intertwining traditional museology with artistic and communicative practices.
The Museum’s team participating to SPEME is coordinated by its executive director, the museologist Alejandra Naftal, and involves professionals and curators working on museum’s contents, educational and training programs, the legal aspects of the site, and the audiovisual and communicative strategies employed in the museum.

Coordinator: Alejandra Naftal


Photo Video Gallery
Arte y Memoria Abordajes múltiples en la elaboración de experiencias difíciles
Edited by Lizel Tornay, Victoria Alvarez, Fabricio Laino Sanchis y Mariana Paganini

Special Issue - Heritage, Memory and Conflict (HMC)
"Spaces of Memory: Heritage, Trauma, and Art" edited by Ihab Saloul, Patrizia Violi, Anna Maria Lorusso, Cristina Demaria

Universidad de Buenos Aires
National Universidad de Colombia
University of Bologna
Museo Sitio de Memoria Esma – Ex Centro Clandestino de Detención Tortura y Exterminio
University of Amsterdam and H401


April 2024
The final conference
November 2023
Activities in Amsterdam
May 2023
Activities in Amsterdam
March 2023
Activities in Buenos Aires
April/October 2023
Itinerant Exhibition ESMA Museum and Site of Memory
The exhibition will tour the areas of the City of Buenos Aires and the Greater Buenos Aires aboard a truck conditioned for this purpose and provided by the Human Rights Secretariat. Upon arrival at the chosen location, members of the Human Rights Secretariat will deliver promotional material about the work of that office and promote playful activities with adults and children. There will also be musical presentations and public conversations. The inside of the truck, which can be accessed from the rear, will be exclusively for the ESMA Museum and Site of Memory.

8 June 2022
Conference: "Presence of the Pasts. Semiotic and Digital Approaches to Memory and Heritage."
Workshop organised by: International Center for the Humanities 'Umberto Eco' - University of Bologna // School of Humanities - Tallinn University (in collaboration with Trame, Center for the Semiotic Study of Memory - EU Project SPEME - EU Project TLU TEE)

download 1    download 2
June 2022
Activities in Bologna

May 2022
Programme H401 Amsterdam

16 March 2022
Conference: “Mirando Hacia Atrás y Encontrando La Historia Aquí y Ahora: Reflexiones Sobre Dos Décadas De Pensamiento Sobre Arte, Trauma, Historia, Memoria y Resistencia”
by Griselda Pollock

December 2021
Objects & Stories: Traumatic Heritages and Competing Narratives
Exhibition and podcast (University of Amsterdam)

14 December 2021
Workshop: Dispositivos estéticos-artísticos de memoria.
Presentación de experiencias de Colombia y Argentina.

download 1    download 2
7 December 2021
Book Launch
Arte y Memoria

December 2020
Abecedary. This abecedary is the result of the 2020 SPEME annual workshop where the curators worked with two artists, a graphic designer and young adult (20-30 years old) second generation immigrants or euro-descendants, who lived in Italy but have connections with geographical areas with recent traumatic histories.They discussed together the concepts of difficult memory, individual and collective identity using objects from their personal experience related to specific key-words. On every page all the young men and women shared their experiences, objects and their thoughts about the key-words, proposing new readings of their meanings, demonstrating how each one is not objective but always the complex result of a cultural and personal positionality. The results of the workshop and of these discussions, have been assembled in the following artwork. Given the different linguistic and cultural background of the participants the curators, the artists and the graphic designer decided to compile the volume in a multilingual way, with translations of each word in all the languages of the participants.

November 2019
Questioning Traumatic Heritage: Spaces of Memory in Europe, Argentina, Columbia
Horizon2020 Europan MSCA Projet SPEME (GA n. 778044)
27-28 March 2019
Jornadas de arte y memoria
Centro Cultural Paco Urondo (UBA)
Buenos Aires
14 March -14 June 2019
Ser Mujer en la ESMA
Muestra temporaria
Exhibition at the ESMA Museum
25-26 September 2019
International conference
Voces y lugares de la Memoria. Caminos Hacia la Construcción de Paz
Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotà
16-17 September 2019
Transición, posibles futuros y construcción de paz
Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotà
8 September - 8 October 2019
Estancia de investigación Speme en Colombia. Lugares y procesos de memoria
Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotà
20-21 giugno 2019
International conference
Museums, Architecture and the City Public Spaces and Spaces of Memory
Bologna, Centro Internazionale di Studi Umanistici "Umberto Eco"
7-8 giugno 2019
Le memorie difficili e la didattica per gli/le adolescenti
Campo di transito di Fossoli (Carpi)


Questioning Traumatic Heritage: Spaces of Memory in Europe, Argentina, Colombia

Contact us

Alma Mater Studiorum
Università di Bologna

email: info@speme.eu
Via Zamboni 33
40126 Bologna
For those interested in Memory Studies and in Speme, or to send us suggestions, comments or proposals, or to subscribe to this bulletin please write to: info@speme.eu.