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Memory and Materiality in Postcolonial and Postsocialist Literatures

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Organizer: Diviani Chaudhuri

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From heirlooms and objects of daily use to monuments and private residence, materiality prompts and shapes memoryscapes. Material culture and the built environment are mobilised to reappropriate and reconfigure the past. The proliferation of digital platforms of curation have engendered new ways of remembering and commodified commemorating which do not involve institutions but are rather initiated and managed by private actors.

This seminar invites papers that discuss the interplay between discourse, material culture, bodies, and the environment in literary cultures of the postcolonial and postsocialist world, where imperial debris (Stoler, 2013) persists and is activated in different ways. In light of the material turn in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the emergence of memory studies as a compelling field of research, papers in this seminar will examine how forms of representation include or exclude the material world, how objects and the built environment prompt and shape processes of remembering and forgetting, how these processes percolate into literature, and how comparative literary studies might generate new insights and frameworks that help understand how postcolonial and postsocialist societies (re-)create usable pasts.

Possible topics may include but are certainly not limited to:

Commemorative practices and literary cultures

Conflict and contested heritage

Monumentality and the everyday

Landscape and memory

Kitsch and nostalgia

Digital media, literature, and objects of memory

Comparative imperial nostalgias

Urban culture, materiality and the literary

Forgetting, overwriting, rebuilding

Interpreting objects and sites of trauma


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