Table Topics: “The Archive and the Unconscious”

Dr. Mirjam Brusius (Oxford University) and Monika Pessler (Sigmund Freud Museum Wien) will talk about The Archive and the Unconscious.

Like archives, museum collections are simultaneously the outcome of historical processes and the very condition for the production of historical knowledge, says Mirjam Brusius. Our understanding of museums and the intellectual histories they encode, however, is usually based on objects that museums make visible. The usually much larger range of objects that is invisible in the backstage areas of the museum, e.g. in study rooms, archives and storage areas, remains separated from the museum histories we tell. What makes certain objects not appropriate for display? Which new stories can be told when looking at this ‘unconscious’ part of the museum?

From Monika Pessler’s point of view an Archive can be understood as a tool to confer meaning to our presence and at the same time to enhance an idea of our social and cultural development: Especially in the fields of art and science it is a frequent practice to provide deeper insights into our current state as well as into our possible future by frequently repeated up-dates with the past. Experts on the Freudian school of psychoanalysis largely agree that the past can never be (re)constructed like it actually took place. One can assume that an interpretation of the past in general is only possible if it extends to the present day. With regard to archived “fragments of memories” the question arises how to handle an archive like the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna that is characterised by its gaps and emptiness – except for some artefacts and everyday items. So is it just a space stuffed with memories?


Max Weber Stiftung

The Max Weber Foundation promotes global research, focused on the areas of social sciences, cultural studies and the humanities. Our research is conducted at ten institutes in various countries across the globe with different and independent fields of focus. Through our globally operating institutes, we are able to contribute to the communication and networking between Germany and our host countries or regions. By promoting academic dialogue and merging academic and non-academic employees from several countries with different cultural backgrounds, the Max Weber Foundation is able to strengthen the internationalization of research.

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