Our memories shape us: our beliefs, our actions, our selves. A memory that we share with others can be a call to action or a way of formulating our identities. But memories are fallible, and the more people who are involved in a memory, the more room there is for debate about its meaning.
The fallibility of memory is important in court cases, memoir-writing, and other situations involving testimony. And the extreme memory-loss caused by conditions such as Alzheimer’s robs people of an important aspect of their identity.
We remember episodes in our lives, and semantic knowledge such as ‘Paris is the capital of France’, but even when these recollections fade, we might still remember the procedural knowledge of how to tie a shoelace or play the flute.
We experience memory within our personal selves, but we also practise it in our cultures, through acts of remembrance. We build traditions around making sure that our communities do not forget important moments in our history: deaths of loved ones or of groups of people, the ends of wars, escapes from persecutions, births and/or deaths of important figures, moments of national independence. Accompanying these traditions are implicit expectations about how we should remember these events – expectations that are sources of controversy when the “correct” form of remembrance privileges one group’s memories at the expense of another, or is used to gate-keep the personal, emotional experiences of memory.
But it’s not easy to just throw out remembrance traditions. Without memory and remembrance, we cannot engage with the past or use its lessons to build a future – but without critically examining them, the past can become a weapon. Museums, memorials, and memoirs fight to develop ethical ways to remember, but projects of memory and remembrance can and must also take place outside of these institutions.
This interdisciplinary conference is a space to explore the intersection between personal, psychological experiences of memory, and the communal, cultural experiences of remembrance.
1st Global Conference
Saturday 23rd October 2021 – Sunday 24th October 2021
Call for papers, presentations and participation is now open.