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Dr Lucy Bond (Westminster)

Dr Rick Crownshaw (Goldsmiths)

Dr Jessica Rapson (Goldsmiths)


Professor Stef Craps, University of Ghent

Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge, University of East Anglia

Professor Anna Reading, King’s College London

Following recent attention to the “cosmopolitan” (Levy and Sznaider 2006) or “multidirectional” (Rothberg 2009) dimensions of memory, this colloquium foregrounds commemorative practices as global positioning systems that enable individuals and collectives to situate themselves (temporally and spatially, emotionally and intellectually, politically, and ethically) in relation to others. Having conceptualised memorative processes thus, we seek to investigate the complex relationship between memory and restitution in the aftermath of both human and natural destruction.

Interrogating the implicit hierarchies of life encoded in disparate forms of historical reckoning, the colloquium considers whether it is possible to imagine a universal model of restitution, or whether processes of redress are necessarily a product of the cultural and historical context in which they arise. We ask how memorial discourses contribute to official and unofficial forms of justice through their imbrication with the diverse institutions of the public sphere. We analyse the ways in which memory may be shaped by the medium of representation and redress, asking whether different types of disaster (environmental, genocidal, terrorist) demand disparate modes of restitution and/or commemoration and articulation.

The papers will consider, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The difficulties of working through traumatic events in ways that accommodate both the needs of individual victims and the demands of wider society.
  • The relationship between divergent forms of historical redress in the public sphere – from judicial trials to museum exhibits, works of literature, financial compensation, governmental acts, commemorative architecture, and claims over territory or land.
  • The differences between restitution, retribution, compensation, and closure, and the divergent ethical and political implications attached to these varying forms of historical reckoning as they are manifested in cultural and commemorative practice.
  • The connection between judicial effect and the media of historical representation; the kinds of individual and collective sovereignty that result from different modes of restitution.
  • The political and ethical implications of transferring models of justice from one cultural or historical context to another, and the issues at stake with adopting a comparative approach to memory.
  • How the work of transnational bodies impacts, complements, or

frustrates attempts to reckon with difficult pasts in local and national communities.

  • The ways in which diverse forms of cultural practice aim to resist reinscribing structures of inequality at local, national, and global levels.

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