MOOC: Memory Sites and Human Rights

Why and how do we remember past atrocities and human rights violations? What is the role of memory sites in social reconstruction, transitional justice and democratisation? As witnesses and testimonies of abuse and horror, memory sites aspire to build reflection, critical memory and non-repetition. As “sites of conscience” drawing on history lessons, memory sites stimulate dialogue and healing, and inspire citizens’ action. This MOOC focuses on the role of memory sites in their crucial interplay with historical trauma, the reconciliation process, the chosen methods for dealing with the past, as well as with nation building dynamics and the shaping of societal identity.

The course is articulated in three modules:

  • Module 1 focuses on the conceptual framework behind memory sites. Starting from a reflection on why and what is important to remember, it then moves to discuss how memories are shaped and who is involved in ‘building memory’. It will show the linkage between history, memory and human rights and the role of memorialisation in reconciliation and social reconstruction.
  • Module 2 is dedicated to the objectives of memory sites, ranging from information and knowledge-sharing to the idea of providing evidence of abuses; from the role of memory sites for identity building/reconstruction and education to the ethical, legal and political challenges of the representation of horror.
  • Module 3 will focus on the aspects related to the ‘design’ of memory sites, thus dealing with format and content, use of testimonials and symbolic resources, artistic language and types of institutional approaches, stressing the artistic contextualisation vis-à-vis the visitors’ reactions and empathetic sentiments for past atrocities and abuses.


At the end of this course, you’ll be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the interconnection and interdependence between history, memory, art and human rights.
  • Develop ability to explain “symbolic reparation” as part of the mechanisms of transitional justice and its contribution to the processes of reconciliation and democratisation.
  • Acquire knowledge of the influence of memory sites in shaping communities, identities, societies and nations.
  • Nurture critical thinking about the relational complexity of actors involved in creation of memory sites in diverse political and cultural context.
  • Develop ability to review, summarise, explain and interpret the role of ethnicity, religion and gender in the memorialization process.
  • Demonstrate capacity to assess, compare and review problems and challenges in creating memory sites.
  • Develop insights of the role of artistic language and institutional design on memorialization, democratisation and justice.
  • Acquire knowledge of “sites of conscience”, their educational benefits and effects for discussions on contemporary human rights issues.

Target Audience: This course is designed for anyone around the world who is curious and motivated to learn more about human rights; history; memory; past, present and future challenges; transitional justice, truth and reconciliation; design, arts and architecture; civic action, engagement and social justice.

Course is funded by the European Commission and offered by the Global Campus of Human Rights coordinated by the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC).



Professor and Researcher, Centre for the Study of History, Culture and Memory of the University of Quilmes, Argentina

Maria Sonderéguer has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Buenos Aires and a Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies in Latin American Social Studies from La Sorbonne in Paris. She is a full Professor at the University of Quilmes –PhD equivalent– and Researcher at the Center for Studies in History, Culture and Memory of that University of Quilmes. She has been a Director of the “Emilio Mignone” Human Rights Center and she is currently the director of the Gender, Memory and Human Rights Observatory. She is also the co-director of a collected human rights publication. Read More.


Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Bologna, Italy

Prof. Dr. Francesco Privitera is ERMA Vice-Director on behalf of the University of Bologna and Professor of Politics and History of Eastern Europe at University of Bologna, and president of the Istituto per l’Europa Centro-Orientale e Balcanica. Read More.


Chairperson of the Global Campus of Human Rights, University of San Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Dr. Veronica Gomez has been Global Campus Chairperson since 2015. She is Co-Director of the Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Latin America and the Caribbean (LATMA), organised by the University of San Martin in Buenos Aires. Read More.


Director of Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past, Croatia

Vesna Teršelić is the Director of Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past. She is member of the Regional Advisory Council of the Coalition for REKOM. She was awarded the Right Livelihood Award (1998), also known as an “Alternative Nobel Prize” and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (1997). Read More.


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