August 2, 2012
1. Memories of Conflict, Conflicts of Memory, Senate House, London, 12-13 February, 2013 (Abstracts due 1 November, 2012)
Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies
Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies, University College London
Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory
There are very few facets of public and private life that are not affected by cultural memories of war and conflict. Recent academic scholarship has also been revolutionised as experts on literature, cinema, history, area studies, sociology, anthropology and many others attempt to theorise the memory-narratives of the last century marked by unprecedented totalitarian regimes, coup d’états, military confrontations, popular movements and what Alain Badiou recently called the passion for the real.
This interdisciplinary conference will examine the various ways in which memories of wars and conflicts of the twentieth century are constructed, resisted, appropriated and debated in contemporary culture. The conference will provide a space for dialogue and interchange of ideas among scholars researching on memory issues related to different regions of the globe. In particular, we are interested in discussing the tensions between local and transnational memory-narratives, official and subversive forms of commemoration, hegemonic and alternative conceptions of remembering.
2. Local Memory, Global Ethics, Justice: The Politics of Historical Dialogue in Contemporary Society, Columbia University, NYC (Abstracts due 30 August, 2012)
The Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability (AHDA) at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights will hold its first annual conference in New York City, December 11-14, 2012. The conference will be co-hosted by the Guantanamo Public Memory Project, and will also feature the Guantanamo Public Memory Projects’ first traveling exhibit and digital media as a shared international challenge in historical dialogue.
Historical dialogue and accountability is a growing field of advocacy and scholarship that encompasses the efforts in conflict, post-conflict, and post-dictatorial societies to come to terms with their pasts. In contesting nationalist myths and identities, in examining official historical narratives, and opening them to competing narratives about past violence, historical dialogue seeks to provide analysis of past violence grounded in empirical research; acknowledge the victims of past violence and human rights abuses; challenge and deconstruct national, religious, or ethnic memories of heroism and/or victimhood; foster shared work between interlocutors of two or more sides of a conflict; identify and monitor how history is misused to divide society and perpetuate conflict; enhance public discussion about the past.
This conference seeks to consider questions relating to these topics, and the state of the relatively new field of historical dialogue and its relationship to other discourses such as transitional justice, memory studies, oral history and historical redress., and. Little consideration has been given to the intersections of these discourses, and how these can be employed as tools in understanding the root causes of conflict. The conference thus seeks to explore the possibilities and limits of these concepts and methods, searching for unexplored connections and elaborating upon how historical analysis can be employed to resolve long-standing sectarian conflicts.
We seek to explore the genealogy of the discipline of historical dialogue as well as research emanating from it: how do the memory and history of past violence evolve over time, and how do they influence a given society in the present day? What is the relationship of advocacy to knowledge production and the relationship between history, memory, and contemporary society? What is the relationship of historical truth to testimonies in truth commissions, and how do truth commissions construct historical truth? How can the tensions that exist between dialogue and accountability be understood, addressed or reconceived? In what ways can one compare historical narratives in post (identity) conflict to post authoritarian regimes? What is the role of subjects such as gender, religion, human being and citizen in understanding historical narrative, memory, dialogue and accountability? Finally, the conference seeks to be a space of interaction and the exchange of ideas between scholars and practitioners who often do not have the opportunity to collaborate, and we welcome papers that address this divide or reach across these boundaries.
Proposals for individual papers, panels, roundtable discussions and digital media presentations will be considered. The deadline for submission of proposals is August 30, 2012. All proposals and questions must be submitted electronically via email to AHDA Program Director Ariella Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals should include a 300-500 word abstract, your name and contact information, as well as a brief bio. Limited travel and lodging funds are available; applications for such funds can be made upon acceptance of your proposal.
3. Remembering, Forgetting, Imagining: The Practices of Memory 1-2 March, 2013, Fordham University, New York (Abstracts Due 15 November, 2012)
Keynote speaker: Professor Marianne Hirsch, Columbia University
“Modern memory is, above all, archival. It relies entirely on the materiality of the trace, the immediacy of the recording, the visibility of the image.”
This interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore the crucial role of memory in formulating our individual and communal identities, and to examine the scholarly discipline of memory itself. We hope to initiate conversations about memory as an active and ongoing cognitive process rather than simply a reaction to past experiences or a set of “facts” frozen in time. While memory purports to preserve the past in the present, it is inherently protean and unstable, and prone to fictionalizing. Indeed, memory and imagination are tightly intertwined; memory and ideology are closely bound; and our memory of what has come before constantly shapes our understanding of and expectations about what is still to come.
This interdisciplinary conference, then, will explore not only this desire to make memory sacred but also our ability to forget, to forget that we’ve forgotten, and to imagine the past in a way that fits neatly into our worldviews. These questions are particularly relevant in the wake of recent revolutions and social movements in the Arab World, Europe, and even the United States; learning to reinvent the past in a certain way helps us to reimagine the future, and thus inaugurate change. Consequently, we invite proposals that explore the various and variegated practices of memory as figured through literature, culture, politics, and scholarship generally.
We welcome individual abstracts of 250 words or panel proposals of 750 words, for three participants, to email@example.com by November 15, 2012. In addition to traditional academic papers, the committee encourages creative literary work, performance art, and multi-media presentations that in some way address the topic.
Presenters might consider, but are not limited to, the following questions:
• How is memory practiced through literature, art, film, or culture?
• Who remembers? What is remembered? What is forgotten? Whose voices are heard? Whose voices are suppressed?
• What is the role of “postmemory,” with its focus on the trauma of the past?
• How is memory understood in early eras, such as medieval or early modern?
• How do texts treat or reflect the past?
• How does the past help us prepare for the future?
• What is the role of imagination in memory or nostalgia?
• How is memory mediated by “memory makers” and memorials?
• In what ways has postmodernism influenced the study of memory?
• What is the role of psychoanalysis in memory studies?
• In what ways does the state repress and/or produce memory?
• How do neoconservatist or neoliberalist movements treat the past?
• How do memorializing objects—texts, photographs, monuments—produce and /or subvert an official state narrative?
• What is the role of affect in producing collective memory?
June 4, 2012
On Thursday I attended the opening evening of the Truth and Reconciliation Event in Toronto. Like many of these events, the evening included statements of support and challenge as well as musical and artistic performances. Lt. Governor David Onley pledged his ongoing support for the work of the commission while Chief William Montour of the Six Nations of Grand River called the TRC toothless, pushing for more recognition of ongoing issues facing First Nation communities such as land, health and housing.
As always, the evening focused on some difficult truths, about Canada’s colonial history and about a challenging road ahead. But the event was also a celebration of sorts, a celebration of resilience. The MC for the evening, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, noted that even in the face of incredible obstacles and hardship, “we have not forgotten how to dance and we have not forgotten how to laugh.”
Two young Inuit throat singers were a great example of this laughter and resilience. The two young women stood on stage, holding each other by the arms, standing face to face. They began the rhythmic humming and deep gutteral sounds of throat singing. An exercise in both competition and collaboration, each song ended in laughter. I am by no means an expert in Inuit throat singing, and so all I will say about their performance is that it was beautiful, and that their laughter was inspiring.
May 9, 2012
May 10, 2012 6:00pm – 7:30pm, 20 Cooper Square, New York, NYU, Journalism 7th Floor Commons
Jointly convened by the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University and The International Center for Transitional Justice, this evening will feature a mini-documentary screening and panel discussion on the intergenerational effects of the Indian Residential School and youth involvement in transitional justice processes.
“Our Legacy Our Hope,” a mini-documentary filmed, scripted, and edited by Canadian youth, depicts the proceedings of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission Atlantic National Event from the perspective of intergenerational survivors of the Indian Residential Schools system. This short film will be presented by the student filmmakers and followed by a panel discussion examining the importance, the benefits, and the challenges of active youth participation in transitional justice mechanisms.
Head of the Children and Youth Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice
Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (to be confirmed)
Ph.D. Student in Media, Culture, and Communication at investigating the ways in which Truth Commissions speak to issues of historical responsibility
October 27, 2011
It’s the end of the first day of the TRC’s third national gathering in Halifax. The day began with the lighting of the sacred fire, which took place on the grounds of Province House. The ashes from the sacred fire at the first gathering in Winnipeg were transferred to the sacred fire in Inuvik, and have now been brought to Halifax. According to the TRC:
The Lighting of the Sacred Fire happens before we begin each Event to ensure that it is the spirits and the teachings that guide us and protect us while the Commission does its work. The transferring of the ashes has become a symbol of national unity as it becomes lit from coast to coast to coast.
The ceremony took place in front of a statue of Joseph Howe (1804-1873), a Nova Scotian politician. Under his outstretched arm, the commission, elders, and participants watched as the sacred fire was lit. (Photos of sacred ceremonies are forbidden. The image above was taken before the ceremony began.) Shortly afterwards, the Truth and Reconciliation Walkers entered the square. The group of five walked for 2,200 kilometres from Cochrane, Ontario to attend the event in Halifax: Patrick Etherington Jr., Robert Hunter, James Kioke, Samuel Koosees, Frances R. Whiskeychan. As they walked from community to community, they raised awareness about the Indian Residential School legacy and the truth commission’s work. I had the honour of hearing Patrick Etherington Jr. speak in Winnipeg about their journey to the first national gathering. They are a truly inspiring group. For more on their journey, click here, or here.
September 9, 2011
The 15th Berlin Roundtables on Transnationality will be held from March 28 – 31, 2012. I attended a previous Roundtable on Memory Politics and had a great experience: interesting presentations, outstanding keynote speakers and wonderful hosts at the Irmgard Coninx Foundation. The papers are selected through an international essay competition. Accommodations and flights to Berlin will be provided to the authors of the (approximately) 45 successful papers. Apply!
15th Berlin Roundtables on Transnationality, March 28 – 31, 2012
With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a new era seemed to have opened up: a world without borders and thus – potentially – a world with less conflict and more freedom. Today, more than 20 years later, we can observe that some border systems have softened while others have been consolidated, and many more border-based regulations have been created on national and supra-national levels. The nation-state has not disappeared and neither have its borders. However, borders and borderlands cannot be reduced to spaces of division and conflict but they also exist as spaces of social, ethnic, cultural and economic blending – territories of their own. In the tradition of previous Berlin Roundtables held on urban development, transnational risks, human rights, and cultural diversity the 15th Berlin Roundtables on Transnationality will focus on borders and borderlands as contested spaces.
For further details please see the background paper.
The 15th Berlin Roundtables will be held at the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) from March 28 – 31, 2012. Based on an international essay competition, approximately 45 applicants will be invited to discuss their research, concerns and agendas with peers and prominent scholars in Berlin. The Irmgard Coninx Foundation will cover travel to and accommodation in Berlin.
Discussions will take place in three workshops:
“The Social Life of Borders and Borderlands” chaired by Julie Y. Chu (Anthropology, University of Chicago) and Tatiana Zhurzhenko (Political Science, University of Vienna),
“The Politics of Borders: Security and Control” chaired by Mattias Kumm (Law, Humboldt-Universität Berlin, WZB and New York University) and Eric Tagliacozzo (History, Cornell University),
“Natural Resources and the Environment along Borders and Borderlands: Conflicts and Solutions” chaired by Michael Redclift (Geography, King’s College London) and Maria Tysiachniuk (Environmental Unit, Center for Independent Research St. Petersburg).
The conference will be accompanied by evening lectures. Guest speakers will be announced soon.
Eligibility and Application Procedure
The call for papers extends to scholars (max. up to 5 years after Ph.D.) and practitioners (e.g. workers in governmental or urban services, NGOs, journalists). Please submit your paper (maximum 3500 words including footnotes and bibliography), an abstract (max. 300 words), a narrative biography and a CV using the online submission form and the style sheets for your abstract and essay.Submission deadline is November 30, 2011. Please note that co-authorship and already published papers will not be accepted. All participants are expected to actively participate during all days of this workshop.
Irmgard Coninx Research Grant
Conference participants are eligible to apply for one of up to three short-term fellowships to be used at the WZB in Berlin. For further information on the fellowship please visit our research grant site. Conference participants will receive all necessary details on the grant application shortly before the conference.
July 20, 2011
Every few years, the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics holds an amazing conference. It’s called the “Encuentro,” meaning “meeting” or “encounter.” I had the pleasure of attending the Encuentro in 2009, held in Bogotá, Colombia. (See my posts on the event: Part I and Part II.) It was absolutely fantastic, an engaging 9 days spent with inspirational people. I highly recommend the conference, and it would be great to see a large Canadian contingent there! See the CFP below:
Cities | Bodies | Action
The Politics of Passion in the Americas
March 17-25, 2012
Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana
Centro Histórico, Mexico City
The 8th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute seeks to examine the broad intersections between urban space, performance and political/artistic action in the Americas. From the critical poetics of body art to the occupation of public space by social movements, the event invites participants to explore the borders, identities and practices through which subjectivities, hegemonies and counter-hegemonies are constructed in the spaces of the city and beyond. We are particularly interested in the ways in which bodies both interpellate and are interpellated, mobilize and are mobilized, by and around the diverse and complex passions that define our globalized and mediatized present—fear, hatred, disenchantment, hope and faith, among others. We seek to investigate, collectively, the strategies through which bodies (individual, social and political) make themselves present, and intervene aesthetic conventions, social formations and political structures in their search to create new meanings and new modes of sociality. This theme will be the point of departure for a vast array of performances, exhibits, roundtables, workshops, lectures and work groups.
Since 2000, our Encuentros have been a point of contact for artists, scholars, students and activists interested in the relationship between performance and politics in the Americas. Each Encuentro brings together 400-600 participants, and is part academic conference, part performance festival, and always interdisciplinary. The Encuentro is a space focused on experimentation, dialogue and collaboration.
The application deadline for the Encuentro is September 26, 2011. To apply, see the instructions on our website (Propose a Project or Apply to a Work Group) and then fill out the Online Application in English.
March 23, 2011
1. Memory: Silence, Screen, Spectacle, March 24 – 26, The New School for Social Research, New York
|The clamor of the past can be almost deafening: it preoccupies us through speech, texts, screens, spaces and commemorative spectacles; it makes demands on us to settle scores, uncover the “truth” and search for justice; it begs for enshrinement in museums and memorials; and it shapes our understanding of the present and future. However noisy and ceaseless the demands and memory of the past may seem, though, in every act of remembering there is something silenced, suppressed, or forgotten. Memory’s inherent selectivity means that for every narrative, representation, image, or sound evoking the past, there is another that has become silent—deliberately forgotten, carelessly omitted, or simply neglected. The conference will explore the tension between the loud and often spectacular past and those forgotten pasts we strain to hear.
[I'll be presenting a short paper on the IRS TRC's first national gathering in Winnipeg last year.]
2. Animating the Indigenous Humanities, March 25, 2011, Transcanada Institute, Guelph Ontario
The TransCanada Institute is hosting a one-day colloquium titled “Animating the Indigenous Humanities: Portaging Disciplines, Institutions, Ecologies” with the Indigenous Humanities Group of the University of Saskatchewan on Friday, March 25th at 11:00am.
The Indigenous Humanities Group (IGH) work in transcultural and transystematic ways to nourish a new/old learning spirit into education at all levels and into every aspect of what is recognized, funded, and published as academic research. Since establishing over a decade ago, the IHG has aligned itself with critique of Eurocentrism and promotion of indigenous voice and vision. These two activities encourage decolonization in complementary ways, challenging established academic hierarchies, assumptions, practices, and outcomes, and seeking to implement forms of inquiry, dialogue, and exchange based in the adaptive traditions developed by the First Peoples of North America. More info: http://www.transcanadas.ca/
Thanks, Sachi for sending information about the Guelph event!