29 October 2009

The Limits of Memory

The Limits of Memory

The Third Annual NSSR Interdisciplinary Memory Conference The New School for Social Research, New York
March 4-6, 2010

Call for Papers

In recent decades there has been a surge of interest in memory and the ways in which it functions, circulates and is mobilized. Much of this research has focused on the positive aspects of memory where it is seen as an effective tool for change, healing, understanding and/or education. Particularly in the realm of collective memory, there has been a focus on facing the past as a way to learn its lessons and build a better future. While this focus on the past has productively inspired new and innovative ways of dealing with various forms of memory (including traumatic and post-traumatic memory, embodied memory, the transmission of inter-generational memory, technologies and representations of memory and so on), there are other sides to this focus on the past. Too often today, scholars focus on the positive and empowering uses of memory and downplay or disregard its negative uses.

Every act of remembering also implies some form of selective forgetting and a reconstruction of the past, often according to present political or cultural needs. This conference aims to address some of the limits in theories and practices of memory, focusing on how the uses of memory are often intimately tied up with its abuses. We also hope to explore the ways in which the growing field of memory studies can continue to push the boundaries of inquiry and the boundaries between disciplines. To this end, we encourage interdisciplinary panel and paper submissions from as many disciplines as possible. Some of the questions we wish to address are:

How do the ways we measure, organize and/or evaluate memory influence the ways in which it is theorized?
How can projects of memory escape the lens of trauma?
Are there such categories as “bad memories” and “good memories?”
What is the visual culture of memory?
Which memories are “allowed” and what happens to those that are shut out of official narratives of the past?
What are the boundaries between the collective and individual aims for recounting the past?
What happens when memorial or reparation projects fail?
How is memory used to perpetuate violence and conflict or to relocate or transplant it?
What are the limits of memory as a tool for reconciliation and forgiveness?
What happens when memory sows the seeds of revenge?
What are the scholarly approaches and implications of a focus on the future in memory studies?

Abstracts of no longer than 250 words should be sent to NSSRMemoryConference@gmail.com by November 20, 2009.

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