The initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies (HGMS) is and has been integral to my scholarly work and, by extension, my life. Beyond the intellectually rigorous courses, conferences, lectures, talks, performances, and reading group, HGMS is engaged with fostering a more ethical social and political life on and off campus. Through public roundtable discussions, radio interviews, and public forums concerning the importance of being aware of competing memorial discourses, HGMS has become more than a university initiative. It has reached into the local community to not only address concerns of anti-Semitism, antiBlackness, and anti-Indigenous actions and rhetoric, but also to create conversation, generative contestation, and effective response to these. As an HGMS student, and one that has been honored with two HGMS fellowships over the last five years, I have also benefited from HGMS space-making. HGMS enabled the first of my series of “performances of memory” that emerge from the kind of intellectual and civic praxis I’ve cultivated as a student of HGMS, and which fundamentally shifted the work I do in both performance and in my dissertation. - Ethan Madarieta, Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature, Latina/o Studies, and Holocaust, Genocide, Memory Studies, UIUC
It is no exaggeration to say that HGMS has put the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on the map worldwide as a major center for research on issues of memory and trauma. Having had the good fortune to interact with many of its members in a variety of different contexts and settings, including a superbly organized graduate conference on the UIUC campus in 2014, I see HGMS as an exemplary space for exchange, learning, and collaboration that fosters a vibrant sense of intellectual community across disciplines and career stages. As an academic based on another continent, I have always admired HGMS’s openness to outside expertise and its resolutely international outlook. This outward-facing orientation is apparent from the impressive roster of guest speakers HGMS has managed to bring to campus over the years, from its active participation in international networks (such as Mnemonics, an international collaborative initiative for graduate education in memory studies that I co-founded and of which HGMS is a valued partner), and from the wonderful blog it maintains, which communicates significant research results and goings-on in its areas of interest to audiences far beyond Urbana-Champaign and beyond the bounds of academe. - Stef Craps, Associate Professor of English Literature and Director of the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative at Ghent University, Belgium
"HGMS keeps me energized and excited for the questions and research that I pursue as a PhD candidate in English and as a growing scholar! I am grateful as it supports collaboration between faculty and graduate students, provides programming such as workshops and lectures by guest speakers who work in different fields and on diverse histories under the rubrics of trauma and memory studies, and encourages graduate student led initiatives such as film screenings, conferences, and a reading group. This vibrant, connective, and welcoming community holds special meaning for me: HGMS has afforded me opportunities to create a space for Armenia Studies on this campus, including organizing events and establishing the April 24th Fund." - Helen Makhdoumian
“HGMS provides a rich and powerful forum for faculty from across the disciplines to share our varied perspectives and research. These interdisciplinary connections create exciting opportunities for faculty to share and contribute to the work of others in the best tradition of the academy. It is quite hard to overstate the importance of having a space like this to connect and interact around our shared interests across this campus.” Tim Wedig, Associate Director, Global Studies
“HGMS is where some of the most exciting and ethically important research at the U of I is happening.” Jamie Jones, Assistant Professor, English
“The initiative is a model program in fostering intellectual inquiry. It consistently brings together faculty and graduate students to explore provocative questions about identity in a relaxing setting. The result is highly productive discussion that leads to new questions, to new workshops, and to new insights about the changing world around us.” Peter Fritzsche, Professor of History
"Even before beginning my doctoral studies in the Anthropology Department in 2016, I knew that I would join and be a part of the Initiative for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. At the time, I did not know how central HGMS and its tremendous community would become in my intellectual development throughout the years. Organizing events with Helen Makhdoumian, such as Spaces of Remembering the Armenian Genocide, co-directing the Future of Trauma and Memory Studies reading group with Claire Baytas, planning the Holocaust, Genocide, Memory Studies Graduate Symposiums, and all the other events that I was part of gave shape to how I conceptualize and theorize memory. During my time at HGMS, I did not only join the ongoing debates within Memory Studies, but I also learned how to become an interdisciplinary scholar and open spaces for critical approaches across disciplines. Finally, and maybe most importantly, I learned and experienced the value of mentorship. I am grateful for the continuous and patient support and guidance of Brett Kaplan, and looking forward to the future collaborations that we will keep building. Lastly, I would like to share my gratitude for Dara Goldman. I am one of the lucky students who had the chance to meet her, know her scholarship, and have her support as a mentor." Dilara Çalışkan, who will be finishing her dissertation at UIUC in Anthropology and HGMS and joining the faculty at NYU—Gallatin as an Assistant Professor in Gender and Sexuality Studies in the fall of 2023.