Transatlantic Partnership on Memory, Responsibility and Transformation

Memory, Responsibility and Transformation

Conversations with students at the University of Virginia.

Created in response to the white supremacist attacks in Charlottesville on August 11th and 12th, 2017, this ongoing project challenges UVA students to work with visting fellows from Germany and UVA faculty to consider how societies teach and memorialize the past. Through art, activism, and scholarship, students address difficult chapters of history from slavery and segregation in the United States to colonialism, genocide, and dictatorship in Germany. This initiative also provides students and the wider Charlottesville community an opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue on the topic of historical inequality, injustice, and responsibility.

Co-sponsored by the Center for German Studies and the Collective Response: Moving Forward Fund at the University of Virginia.

Exhibiting the Past: UVA's 101st Object

Student Project

What can an object tell us about society? UVA students explored the role of museums and the challenges in curating public history on both sides of the Atlantic. 

By Nicole Johnson
Personally, I believe that the purpose of history is to help us learn for the future.
Walter, UVA Class of 2021
UVA must not ignore its racist roots if it hopes to understand and correct the current climate.
David, UVA Class of 2020
When I think about UVA, I think about a resilient community, not one of fear and shame.
Audrey, UVA Class of 2018

Documentary Theater

Together with German theater director Christine Umpfenbach, UVA theater students explored how documentary theater can be a tool to help communities uncover different perspectives of shared, traumatic events, and to build empathy across different backgrounds. 

Students then created their own documentary theater pieces about the white supremacist attacks on August 11th and 12th. The scripts are based on interviews with Charlottesville residents and members of the campus community as well as personal reflections on their own experience of the events. The resulting documentary theater pieces were performed in a small reading.

UVA Documentary Theater - Ali


UVA student Ali reflects on the events of August 11th and 12th, 2017, in this personal documentary theater piece.

By Ali Cheraghpour
So my blinds were up and I had my Quran in my room and you can see it through the window. And I had this… incomprehensible feeling.
Ali, Current UVA Student

UVA Documentary Theater - Geri


Charlottesville community member Geri reflects on the events of August 11th and 12th, 2017, in this documentary theater piece by UVA student Savannah. 

By Savannah Hard
This is Charlottesville, Virginia. 2017. I don’t understand how this happened. I don’t understand. I just don’t understand how there isn’t room for everybody.
Geri, Member of the Charlottesville Community

Confronting the Past and the Present: Student Voices from UVA


Current UVA students on the violent white supremacist rally last summer and the lasting impact it had on campus. 

By Nicole Johnson
Whatever that was, that’s not my home, that’s not my UVA, that’s not my college town.
Lauren, UVA Class of 2020
I understand that it’s hard to change things and it’s easier to erase them. But I think you can’t do that.
Katie, UVA Class of 2019
You can’t really move forward without knowing the true story of your past.
Pasuth, UVA Class of 2019

The Power of Imagery

Student Project

Persuasive propaganda requires powerful imagery. UVA students worked with photographer Marc Erwin Babej to create their own propaganda-like images.

By Nicole Johnson
We don’t live in a black and white world where everything is a textbook straight answer. We are human beings, and there is always a gray zone, never a fine line.
Ryan, Current UVA Student
We believe the contrast of the images separates the two movements in viewers' minds. It puts white supremacists in the dark, as in the past, and the counter-protesters in the light, representing the future.
Gabrielle, Chris, Catie, and Ryann, Current UVA Students

2017 Visiting Fellows from Germany

UVA Faculty

Manuela Achilles

Associate Professor of German & History, Director of the Center for German Studies, & European Studies Program

Böll Staff

In Partnership With: