Transatlantic Conversations in Charlottesville

Created in response to the white supremacist attacks in Charlottesville on August 11th and 12th, 2017, this ongoing project challenges University of Virginia students and faculty to work with visting fellows from Germany and 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 topics of historical inequality, injustice, and responsibility.

The project was created in collaboration with the Center for German Studies and the European Studies Program at the University of Virginia.

It was supported by the Religion, Race & Democracy Lab and cosponsored by the Center for Global Inquiry + Innovation.

Fellows Natasha Kelly and Leonard Schmieding talk with Niya Bates, Public Historian of Slavery and African American Life, and Brandon Dillard, Manager of Special Programs, at Monticello

For a many years, this inconspicuous plaque, placed in 2007, was the only memorial to the enslaved laborers who built the University of Virginia. Today, a new monument demanded by the student body after the events of August 2017 is under construction. The plaque reads: “In honor of the several hundred women and men, both free and enslaved, whose labor between 1817 and 1826 helped to realize Thomas Jefferson's design for the University of Virginia"

Transatlantic Partnership on Memory & Democracy: 2019

Press Coverage at the Transatlantic Partnership on Memory and Democracy 2019


I think UVa's bicentennial efforts, such as having more courses and dialogue related to the history of slavery at the university will be a huge step
Jessica Wang
It's not like UVa or Thomas Jefferson are all bad. It's just that there are conflicting things about UVa's and Charlottesville's history that need to be recognized in order to be dealt with
Tori Meyer
Countermonument to a statue of Jefferson laid by students

Each April 12th, UVa's secret societies lay a wreath to commemorate the birthday of the university's founder, Thomas Jefferson. In 2019, students instead created a counter-monument referencing Jefferson's support for slavery, the unviersity's rise to prominence due to its research on eugenics, and enduring racist legacies of blackface in the school's yearbooks

New Fellows

Returning Fellows

UVa student and tour guide Justin Smith discusses the university's African-American history with visiting fellows

Collage of Noa Ha, Natasha Kelly, Armin Langer, Leonard Schmieding, & Christine Umpfenbach

Meet the Transatlantic Partnership on Memory & Democracy Fellows

UVa Faculty

A phd candidate listens while fellow Noa Ha presents on her research about street vendors in Berlin and public space in Professor Michael Lee's seminar

Heinrich Böll Stiftung Washington, DC Staff