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Mapping Memories of Violence: Role of Visual Texts in Mnemopolitics

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Organizer: Ragini Chakraborty

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American photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White documented the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust through her lens in 1945 and also captured the brutality of border politics and mass migration of the Partition of British India in 1947 –thus creating an archive of a violent past in two discrete geo-political sites . Métis artist Christi Belcourt started the “Walking With Our Sisters” art project that commemorates and remembers the murdered and missing indigenous women of North America who have been the victims of a violent settler colonial history. Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis (later turned into a film) highlights the impact of religious extremism and war in Iran during the Islamic revolution, with a particular focus on women’s experiences of the violence. All these archives are examples of memory construction/preservation in the face of state violence –in other words,  mnemopolitics. The discussion of mnemopolitics includes the role played by objects, monuments, memorials in preservation of memory. Often these objects of memory create a site for intersection of material culture and memory, and sometimes these open up spaces for discussions of personal loss, pain, and separation. Literature, art, and oral performances also play a significant role in remembrance of historical trauma and help to create dialogues surrounding them. This panel aims to look at visual archives (that already exist or are in the process of making) and explore how non-verbal forms of documentation function in their interaction with memory. 

This panel invites papers that examine the role of visual archives (films, graphic narratives, art installations, paintings, monuments and memorials and others) in creating  alternate memory–that attempts to fill in ruptures or voids–left as a result of historical violence and trauma. How does Mehmet Aslan’s 2021 award winning photograph of a Syrian father who has lost his limbs in the civil war, playing with his son who was born without limbs, function as alternate memory?  How does alternate memory challenge state-sponsored official history  and raise questions of marginalization and subjugation? Drawing from the Foucauldian notion of counter-memory that resists dominant, state-sponsored history, this panel seeks scholarly intervention that focuses on visual texts that provide a vision into a disjunctured past that exists in a liminal state between remembering and forgetting and acts as tools of resistance in memory production/preservation. Contributions for this seminar may include (but are not limited to) the following areas of research:

-politics of gaze in memory construction
-depictions of screen memory  
-role of data visualization in mapping memory 
-role of visual archive in memory studies 
-multidirectional memory 
-art and performance as counter memory 

Abstracts must be capped at 300 words with a short bio-note of 50 words.

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