Opening speech

Professor Dr. Loreta Georgievska-Jakovleva

Respected Members of the Scientific Board of this conference, Dr. Natalija Boronikova, Dr. Dagmar Podmakova, and Dr. Katriina Soini,
Respected colleagues,
Dear friends,

50 years ago Skopje was decimated by an unprecedented earthquake. The older generations remember this day as a traumatic experience which cost many families their closest ones. Skopje was virtually annihilated.
At the same time, Macedonia received help from all across the world. In that seemingly distant 1963, Skopje became a city of solidarity. Though lives could never be replaced, professionals and volunteers came to Skopje so as to offer their assistance and help to people stricken by grief and loss, while foreign nations helped rebuild homes and construct new dwellings. In memory of their selfless acts, a number of Skopje streets carry the names of London, Paris, Prague, Bucharest, etc.
I do believe my analogy rings clear. This year, as we embarked on the commemoration of the half-century mark of this tragic event, the Center for Culture and Cultural Studies had the idea to, once again, though symbolically, remind Skopje of the need for acts of humanity by inviting it back to this city of ours, while hopefully showing that cultural memory is a needed and necessary link between the individual and the collective, since it determines the relations between different ethnic groups as it helps stabilize one’s identity and character. In a sense, cultural memory affords us continuity, by allowing the people of one community to identify themselves communally, through shared means and practices. Diverging and clashing memories breed conflicts. Traumatic events leave lasting consequences.
This Conference has one clear aim in mind: to allow for memory to stand next to memory, for bonds and links to be identified, for relationships to be forged, so that perhaps we could speak of conflict-prevention rather than conflict-resolution. And certainly, to allow researchers from various disciplines to share their findings in the large (umbrella) field of cultural memory.
To illustrate: when we sent out the Call for Papers about this first Annual Conference on Cultural Memory, we received an overwhelming number of 700 applicants. Out of those, 530 were invited to take part, with 350 coming to present their papers. The numbers themselves speak volumes about a heightened interest in the past, a topic that we are all affected by, and one that can certainly be approached in many a way and through many a discipline. Not to mention the undisputable fact that memory is ever-present in our daily routines. Thus, I hope that during these 3 full days we are going to engage in productive and provoking discussions, and help shed further light on what cultural memory truly stands for.

Opening speech

Deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of Macedonia,
Mr. Dragan Nedeljkovikj

Distinguish Prof. D-r Loreta Georgievska-Jakovleva, President of the Centre for Culture and Cultural Studies,
Distinguish members of the Scientific Board of the Cultural Memory Conference,
Distinguish Professors,
Distinguish participants of the First Annual International Conference of the Centre for Culture and Cultural Studies “Cultural Memory”,
Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the great pleasure to greet you at the opening of the First International Conference “Cultural Memory” and to wish you a sincere welcome in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia.
The time we are currently living in is undoubtedly a time of many changes. By way of coping with the latter, researchers of various disciplines have set a goal to understand, clarify and define them accordingly. One of the tools in those efforts is the relatively new term – Cultural Memory, which may be the resolution for the opposing forces of the globalisation processes, and those of the resistance to unification.
For individuals, as well as for nations, Cultural Memory is a complex term, linked not only to history, but also to experience. Such experiences are read throughout the time and space, thus shaping our personal and collective identity, but also our system of values.
Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen
The different systems of values are often source of conflicts. The World remembers many wars, disasters, misfortunes. There are often opposing opinions that create traumatic histories. Contribution to overcoming them is the idea driving the Centre for Culture and Cultural Studies to organise this conference.
Starting at the point that traumatic memories may be overcome only if they are discussed, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and the Ministry of Culture are seeing this conference as a contribution provided by the researchers from Republic of Macedonia, along with their colleagues from the whole World, in their efforts to overcome conflicts and injustice. Each nation has its historic events which are considered as fundamental and are celebrated. However, each nation, due to various reasons, has also events which are omitted from the collective memory and are therefore source of potential crisis. The participation of more than 350 researchers coming from 48 countries representing almost the whole World is good grounds for initiating dialogue, for enhancing discoveries, and for adopting conclusions which will transform the view of the World as a mosaic comprised of different, but valuable elements, elements comprising the World’s cultural heritage.
Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen
At the end, it remains for me to wish you a successful and fruitful work within the Conference and of course, pleasant moments in the Republic of Macedonia.
Thank you.