In considering the politics and policies of commemorating the past, this conference probes how public discourses about memory change over time. Papers that explore how the past is known, interpreted, conceptualized, or articulated, and how such representations evolve with the passage of time, are welcome. How has the passage of time changed the way memories of historical violence, atrocity and genocide are represented in the public sphere? In what ways do political, social and cultural forces influence, appropriate, or stifle these memories in different ways as the original event recedes into the more distant past? Related topics include the globalization of memory, and with it the increasing popularity of commemorative memorial practices. The proliferation of museums and memorials, the increase in confessional or memorial literature, and the surge of memory laws against Holocaust and genocide denial are some examples of the historical, cultural and legal phenomena that speak to questions of how individuals and communities remember. These modes of ‘making the past present’ speak not only to the passage of time and the forces of multidirectional memory, but also to the ways in which communities understand issues of justice and accountability, memory and amnesia, prevention and the culture of ‘never again’.
This conference thus seeks papers that explore the ways in which communities negotiate narrativization of the past over time, and what the implications of such changes in public discourses of memory suggest in terms of present and future political realities, conflict transformation and atrocity prevention, and the role that history itself has in shaping or re-shaping the ways in which individuals and groups relate to the past and future.
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