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Hendrikje Grunow


Feeling(s) Past.
On affective historical consciousness and living an ordinary live in times of conflict


Can the past be felt? How did people in urban Colombia manage to survive the country's turbulent history almost without being affected by it? And how do people remember what they consider ordinary? In my dissertation project, I would like to try to find answers to these questions.
The assumption that one has to know the past in order to not repeat it is a very common statement when speaking about times of violent conflict. This knowing about the past, however, comes in many different ways. Far from being limited to written accounts or testimony, knowledge also reflects itself in everyday practices and emotional sensations. Especially in family contexts, transgenerational transmission of the past often works through these subtle sensations. In my dissertation project, I would like to find out about these ways of knowing and relating to the past, exploring the affective qualities of ordinary family memories in urban Colombia. Through ethnographic fieldwork, I hope to shed a light on both the ways in which people affectively relate to the past, and how they conceive their lives within the broader historical context of the country's ongoing conflict.


memory, historical consciousness, affect, emotion, Colombia, the ordinary


  • Since 2015 – Graduate School "The Problem of the Real in the Culture of Modernity", Universität Konstanz
  • 2014 – MA in Interdisciplinary Latin American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Universidad de los Andes and Universität Bern
  • 2011 – BA in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin and Universität Zürich
  • 2009-2014 Scholarship from the Heinrich Böll Foundation