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Combatting Erasure: Contemporary Cultural Production and the Recuperation of Invisibilized Memories in the Americas

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Organizer: David Dulceany

Co-Organizer: Kristal Bivona

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Whereas histories of colonialism and neo-colonialism in the Americas traditionally privilege a patriarchal and Eurocentric gaze; contemporary cultural production performs duties of mnemonic care (Mihai 2022) to combat against erasure. Artists and cultural producers render visible histories that have been subjected to active and passive forgetting (Aleida Assmann 2008). This seminar asks how recent and contemporary artists, authors, filmmakers and cultural institutions challenge hegemonic memories by producing works that reveal what has been rendered invisible with a focus on Indigeneity, Afrolatinidad, gender, sexuality, and resistance to imperialist ecological destruction. When official histories are unreliable for understanding the past in all its complexity, how do cultural producers and artists take care of the hermeneutical space of memory through their work?

What forms of cultural production and storytelling are inconvenient for elites and the politically powerful? How does cultural policy foment or impede movements for memory in the Americas? 

We seek to engage with studies that highlight contemporary cultural production in the Americas that actively combats erasure and the forgetting or silencing of the past (Trouillot 1995).

We are particularly interested in studies that are hemispheric in scope or have a relevance to hemispheric issues, impacting all or most of the hemisphere. Some possible themes to address include but are not limited to:

Archival Interventions - the refusal, rejection, or destruction of archives; digitizing existing archives or the creation of new ones, personal and family archives dealing with the intergenerational transmission of memory or postmemory (Hirsch 2012)

Digital Memory Activism - social media as a vehicle for memory, digital remembrance projects, hacktivism and digital protest campaigns, digital literature and interactive digital art projects, online communities 

Forms of Popular Culture and Community-Based Cultural Production - popular media and music (social media and influencers, shows and films on streaming platforms, reggaeton and mainstream music, local or community based music or art collectives), public art (murals, street art, performance art) 

Public Spaces of Memory Making and Forgetting - memorials, museums, and monuments, publics and counterpublics (Warner 2002)

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