Call for Participants for the Cultural Memory and Transformation Panel at the Feminist and Women's Studies Association conference, Nottingham, 21-23 June 2013
It gives us great pleasure to announce that we are now accepting individual papers for our open panel streams. If you would like to submit an individual paper abstract (250 words) for a 20 minute paper, please contact the convenors directly.
How are the performances, retrieval and transmission of cultural memory related to cultural transformation? Within the history of women’s movements in the UK, memory making played a crucial role. The Women’s Liberation Movement excavated and reclaimed ‘hidden’ histories, generating lineages and cultural memories of inspiring women and activist interventions. They republished books, wrote articles, performed plays and researched the legacies of music made by women in order to assert women’s identities and places in culture. The WLM, and before that, the Fawcett library, was also struck by Jacques Derrida’s ‘archive fever’. The process of beginning, recording and ordering histories that is orientated, perhaps, towards the future to come.
Are such acts of memory making productive, or are they part of what Joan Scott has called ‘The Fantasy of Feminist History?’ Does reinvigorating the memories of women’s interventions in history, as Scott warns, assimilate those actions into a homogenous legacy based on the fantasy of identification with women’s actions across time? For Scott, this yearning to identify is a form of epistemic violence, which reduces memory making into simplified mythology grounded in the fantasy of historical sameness. Yet it is precisely in yearning for the invigoration of living memories, that M. Jacqui Alexander in Pedagogies of Crossing sees as a key ethical pivot for healing the wounds of (neo) colonialism and displacement. Is it possible then to memorialise with attentiveness to historical specificities that can do justice to the action of the past? Can cultural memory be used as a form of inspiration for transformation of the present, attending to unfinished histories, as José Esteban Muñoz attests in Cruising Utopia? Or is it better to advocate forgetting, as Jack Halberstam suggests following Toni Morrison and Saidya Hartman, in order to interrupt generational logics defined by irretrievable loss? How can memories defined by rupture, trauma and intangibility be responsibly translated in curatorial practice and policy making?
How has the recent turn to temporality within critical thinking changed the way cultural memory has been defined? What happens to categories such as the ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’ when cultural memories are re-enacted or otherwise brought back to life? How do untimely histories re-emerge in the present, to rewrite both the past and future possibilities? How have digital technologies transformed the capacities for memorialisation available to people living in an information-intensive environment? Do free web tools, such as blogs and wikis, offer marginal histories a greater cultural presence in a public sphere populated by diverse memory initiatives? Or does the infiltration of digital technologies into everyday life threaten memory itself, as Bernard Stiegler warns? Do these technologies short circuit human capacities for retention, as we live in a time constituted by intense attention capture, or do they provide novel ways to create new memory relations, and forms of resistance?
This panel invites writers, thinkers, artists, heritage practitioners, performers, archivists, policy makers, curators, neurologists, community and oral historians, psychologists, technophiles, political theorists, bloggers and other people interested in the cultural politics of memory, to discuss some of the questions raised above, and generate others. This panel is open to a diverse range of approaches and practices related to cultural memory, and is interested in engaging with some of the theoretical and practical challenges of working with memories.
Dr Withers is looking for presenters to join the panel. Please contact [log in to unmask] with expressions of interest.
Deadline: 1 December 2012
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