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Appalling - Sinful - Immoral? (Frankfurt)


Once you live away from the place of your upbringing you realise that moral standards can be quite different. Things that you find completely normal can be alien to the world of others. Even more, according to their moral code what is normal for you may seem appalling, sinful, immoral to them – and vice versa.

In times of global mobility this is not a small issue. While people of different origin often find a surface level of common behavioural standards, underneath the surface things can look quite different. At times when we are on our own or in company of fellows from our own cultural background we realise how much the relativity of norms in a globalised environment can clash with our respective cultural heritage.

In our social life there is a need to adjust to often diametrically opposed ideas and requirements. In doing so morality can be our crutches, but more often morality is experienced as a dilemma, an imposition, a burden, adding more to inner turmoil than relieving it.

Here is a suggestion to get together for a joint project in which we take the notion of morality as a starting point. In the project we will try to look at our own lived reality. The aim is to come to a better understanding of social and historical influences that impact on our lives, and how we develop our own stance in terms of moral issues.

Hence, our morality: Whose morality is that? How do we get it? How does it get us? What do we do with it, and what does it do to us? Are we led by it, or misled? What in fact is it made of? How does it survive? How do we keep it alive? How do we experience it, how do we live with it? Where does it reside, where does it cling to? Or is it always somewhere else, never exactly where we expect it? How can we get a grasp of it? Can we act on it? Is it replaceable?


We will use a method called Collective Memory Work. This entails group discussion based on stories from our own experience. We will work with self-generated short texts. We are searching for connections between the 'social and the personal'. The texts will provide material for an analysis of social conditions and influences in the establishment of our morality, and our ways to appropriate morality.

The 'buts', or … what the method is not:

We analyse and discuss self-generated texts but memory work is not a form of therapy.
We take moral dilemmas, and questions of morality as starting point but memory work is not a search for an immediate solution of an immediate problem.
Inevitably concrete moral codes will play a part in our discussions but memory work is not a forum for religious or spiritual missionary.
Instead it is a collective search for common patterns of adapting to – or struggling with – a given historical and social situation, namely in times of increased global mobility. Memory-work generates insight. It is a method of critical investigation and reflection.


This project is embedded in a larger study with the aim to also document experiences of using Collective Memory Work. For this purpose participants will be asked to take part in an entry-interview (~ 30 minutes) prior to the first group meeting, and a follow-up interview (~ 60 minutes) a couple of months after the end of the project.


The group will meet once a month, at weekends over a period of 6 months. Exact arrangements for the dates of meetings will be made by the group members once the group is established.
An information meeting is scheduled for Sunday, the 8th of July, 15.30 h.

Venue: Kulturzentrum Bessunger Knabenschule, Ludwigshöhstraße 42, Protected content .
The meeting is for information purposes and it is open to anyone. Attendance does not establish an obligation for participation in the group.


The group is open to anyone with an interest in the topic, and the method.
Basic requirements are availability and reliability.
Communication will be in English.


There are no fees.


The group will be facilitated by Dr Robert Hamm (Maynooth University & Institut für kritische Theorie, Berlin).


Please send your inquiries to Robert per e-mail: Protected content

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