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ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS  October 2019

ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS October 2019

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Subject:

CFP: 'Inadvertent Commemorations: Against the Historical Grain', Association of Critical Heritage Studies Conference (August 2020)

From:

Alyssa Grossman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Alyssa Grossman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 9 Oct 2019 11:08:07 +0100

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text/plain

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Call for papers:
Panel at the Association of Critical Heritage Studies 5th Biennial Conference,
University College London, 26-28 August 2019


Panel: Inadvertent Commemorations: Against the Historical Grain

Convenors: Alyssa Grossman, Department of Communication and Media, University of Liverpool; Francisco Martínez, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester.

Abstract Submission: Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words, with an accompanying biographical note (100 words max) with name, affiliation and contact details to [log in to unmask] and [log in to unmask] by 17 October 2019 (Thursday). Successful applicants will be notified by 21 October 2019 (Monday). 


Crumbling façades, megabytes of data, fossils, invoices, VHS cassettes, abandoned monuments, land art, Trumpabilia, physical traces of the ongoing migratory crisis, landfill debris (Sterling 2012), drifts of the Anthropocene (Pétursdóttir 2019), maps and traffic signs: these sorts of items are not usually intended to be memorialised as official artefacts of remembrance or cultural heritage. Instead they constitute what Walter Benjamin (1999) described as mundane objects of ‘involuntary’ memory. Unplanned, arising through unexpected, everyday encounters, involuntary memories tend to be highly affective and sensory, setting them apart from more ritualised, authoritative practices of remembrance. Their rupturing qualities embrace the “jagged aesthetic of allegory, montage and juxtaposition” (Jay 2012: 4), to work against dominant discourses of memory that favour more coherent, settled, or unified accounts of the past. Such inadvertent forms of memorialisation can open up dynamic spaces of commemoration that are not constrained by fixed cultural or national narratives, reminding us of the importance of mutations, and of our inability to fully control the afterlife of things.

This panel aims to foster a new focus for contemporary debates on social memory, steering away from deliberate acts and spaces of authoritative or official remembrance, toward the more open-ended realms of involuntary, inadvertent recollection. We invite contributions that explore the sensory and emotional dimensions of these unexpected forms of memory, how and where they occur, and how they might provide alternatives to standardised or hegemonic narratives about the past. Possible topics could include accounts of new encounters with things that have been overlooked or forgotten; accidental memorials or inadvertently commemorative works of public art; unplanned or unofficial archives; unsettled stories or unintended consequences emerging through particular museum interpretations or exhibitions. We welcome papers that are speculative, conceptual, or grounded in a specific case-study, engaging with theoretical and empirical questions such as: How do such involuntary practices connect to the visceral yet impalpable operations of memory, dreams, and imagination? How might such spontaneous, fragmented, and disruptive forms of memorialisation push against the conventional memorialising rhetoric of ‘coming to terms with’ a past that cannot actually be ordered or laid to rest?


Benjamin, W. 1999. The Arcades Project. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
Jay, M. 2012. Refractions of Violence. New York: Routledge.
Pétursdóttir, Þ. 2019. ‘Anticipated futures? Knowing the heritage of drift matter.’ International Journal of Heritage Studies. 
Sterling, C., 2012. ‘Dirt: The filthy reality of everyday life. An exhibition at the Wellcome collection (March 24th - August 31st 2011).’ Papers from the Institute of Archaeology 21: 125–28.

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