Africa Chapter of the Memory Studies Association Inaugural Conference
Memory in Africa: Transcultural Dimensions
17-19 October 2019, Pretoria
Within Memory Studies, a rapidly growing, interdisciplinary field of research internationally, the African continent, its people, diaspora and global linkages constitute neglected areas of research. This is despite the efforts of selected individual scholars and the International Memory Studies Association’s explicit mission to move beyond the Euro/Anglo centrism that has defined the early development of the field. This conference aims to provide a platform for academic researchers in Africa and international scholars interested in Africa to network, share their research and begin developing an Afrocentric approach to memory studies.
The memory of discrimination, suffering, violence and loss features prominently in extant scholarly studies on African history and society. This conference encourages researchers to avoid binary conceptualizations of traumatic versus happy memories and rather discuss a broader ‘emotional range and vocabulary’, how these emotions are remembered, forgotten or silenced. This may include exploring how experiences of suffering and pain relate to empowering memories of resistance; nostalgia for old times, values and social relations; or restorative memories of healing, recovering agency and constructive processes. Memory-distortion, ‘false memory’ and forgetting, both at the personal and collective level, are equally important subjects of research.
Memory studies scholars (e.g. Erll, Rigney) have advocated a shift from cultural to transcultural memory; from national memories to transnational and global memories and from sites of memory (lieux de mémoires
in Pierre Nora’s words) to ‘dynamics of memory’. Some of these concepts are particular pertinent in an African context, where most national borders have artificially been drawn by colonial powers and where orality and performance has often been prioritized over symbolic sites and objects. However, as it is important to avoid essentializing African culture, memory and epistemologies, a focus on transcultural memory will explore the complex interweaving of memory strands across cultures on the continent and beyond.
We invite participation from established researchers and postgraduate students in a wide range of disciplines from anthropology, cultural studies, diaspora studies, geography, health, history, mobility studies, political science, psychology, religion, sociology and other relevant fields. Practitioners in museums, memorial institutions, archives, the arts and performance fields, as well as researchers working for NGOs and government organizations are also welcome to contribute insights from their field of expertise. While the majority of contributions will be formal academic papers, alternative forms of presenting research, e.g. in videos, visual art or performances will be possible in specially arranged sessions.
We invite papers focused on the African continent, society and diaspora, as well as Africa’s relationship with the global arena. African scholarly perspectives on theories of memory and methodologies of memory-based research are particularly encouraged. The following presents some themes that may be explored, but this is not a comprehensive list. It is important to emphasize that we seek contributions not only on collective, cultural or social memory, but also personal, episodic and autobiographical remembrance and forgetting.
- the role of political memory in international relations and local, national and transnational politics
- memory in law and transitional justice processes
- multidirectional travel of memories between Africa and the world
- memory in the age of digital media and networked communication technology
- memory in the context of religion and spirituality
- the role of memory in health and sickness (including HIV/Aids, Ebola, etc.)
- commemoration of persons, events and places in African societies
- how are local memories affected by global narratives and discourses
- memory in the context of travel, mobility, migration and displacement
- gendered memories and memories of gender relations
- testing of established concepts in memory studies (e.g. Hirsch’s notion of postmemory) in African case studies
- memory, inequality and poverty
- methodologies of memory studies in an African context and in relation to oral history studies
This conference is hosted Atabongwoung Gallous (University of Pretoria) and Sabine Marschall (University of KwaZulul-Natal) and will be hosted on the campus of the University of Pretoria. Send an abstract of 150 words for a 20 minute presentation, including affiliation and full contact details by 31 January 2019 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Notification of acceptance by 15 March 2019.