Cultural Memory in Biblical Exegesis


Cultural memory is a way of dealing with the past in social and cultural life. It transposes the notion of memory as individuals' negotiation/representation of past experience (commemoration and amnesia) into the collective and cultural area. Cultural memory is the shared reproduction and recalling of what has been learned and retained, normally treated as 'the cultural heritage'. It also involves transformation and innovation. As opposed to individual memory, it brings social institutions and power into play. The notion of location and space ('landscape, ethnoscape, a mental map') is a major contributing factor in making the fragmented retrieved past a coherent whole. Cultural memories appear as palimpsests of material artifacts (including buildings and monuments), texts, pictures, and ritual practice. Especially relevant is the negotiation of 'cultural memory' between local identity and 'global' (imperial) culture in this area.

Cultural Memory in Biblical Exegesis

The purpose of this programme is to study how memory is inscribed and embodied in biblical culture and its surrounding area. Papers presented will deal with methodological issues of cultural memory and address case studies of memory work in the area of biblical, ancient Near Eastern, and classical studies. Papers dealing with cultural memory can be presented in the field of textual studies, archaeology, or iconography, or as a combined study of the different fields.


Pernille Carstens


Vienna 2014

We use the session as a classical workshop and here dealing with our examples of Old Testament textual analyses based on cultural memory research and perspectives.  Hopefully this could be a starting point for creating a text book in common.

Leipzig 2013

We continue to discuss the theoretical approach of cultural memory into our field of research, and therefore still give space for more theoretical and methodological founded papers, but since we based most of our research on case studies we want to continue our investigations in orientation approach and the issue of belonging. We try to focus on connections and belongings to grave, burial, or memorial as a specific space.

Amsterdam 2012

The Negotiation of Authority, place, myth and memory. How do human beings orientate themselves in the world, and how do patterns of human orientation reveal themselves in Biblical and related literature? This question is the focus of the 2012 sessions. The hypothesis is that human orientation takes place in negotiations of authority and through claims to places, myths and memory. Therefore, the sessions will focus on human orientation in the landscape and related to the native land and other belongings, as well as the linguistic means of identity formation and orientation: the creation of foundational myths and memory, the shaping of authoritative and normative texts.

Thessalonika 2011

In Thessaloniki this research group continues to investigate the city as place for memory and identity formation. We avoid focusing on specific kinds of definitions of the city, but rather look at its function. The human being is related to structured space e.g. cities: Here they articulate, organize and choose their lifes and thereby create their identity expressed in the materiality (monuments) politics (law systems) and religion (the city as holy place) and the personal narrative (my place). The cities fulfil needs, but what is their source of attraction and repulsion?

The sessions will explore the intersection between cities as structured space and as objects of people’s gaze: how do cities carry peoples’ memories of the past and their hopes for the future?


In Thessaloniki we have one joint session with the research program "Israel and the Production and Reception of Authoritative Books in the Persian and Hellenistic Period". Papers for this session will be invited. See

Then we have one or two sessions on City as described in "Agenda" together with the research group "The Bible as Sacred Space", these sessions have invited papers as well as open call. So please feel free to join us with your proposal.

Tartu 2010

The City as the Space of Remembrance

All since the works of Foucault, Lefebvre, Soja and others, the city has been subject to an transdisciplinary research of history, sociology, and spatiality. From the perspective of structured space, one may explore the city as the source of man’s perception of the past and her self-understanding. The focus of the sessions will be the application of these perspectives on “the city” as a representation of the past in biblical and classical/oriental culture, and how cultures perceives the past through configurations of the city space.

Lincoln 2009

This is an open group and anyone interested in being part of the research group can contact the chairs. Papers are both accepted by submission, and also some contributors will be invited. In Lincoln 2009, we plan to have sessions on two fields of research: Power and Propaganda and Collecting the Past, but colleagues are also invited to present their own subjects.

The Annual Conference 2021
takes place 2-5 August
in Wuppertal. Read more.