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Memory and Memorialization

Members of this research cluster explore the status of memory as an object of investigation in feminist theory and as a contested form of social, cultural and political practices. There is much at stake in how we remember and memorialize forms of political violence and the effects and consequences of such trans/national traumas. Whether encoded in truth and reconciliation commissions, in testimonies by women survivors, in Rest in Peace murals created by ‘inner city’ youth, in photographs of the disappeared carried in protest by survivors and family members, in memorials to those who have been lost to violence, in plays and films that enact histories of colonial violence, exclusion, and containment, or in other myriad forms of invoking historical memory and amnesia, memory projects are simultaneously contestations of and collusions with forms of hegemonic power. Indeed feminist, indigenous and critical race scholars, as well as artists, filmmakers and other producers of culture, have attempted to disrupt hegemonic power by excavating memories of epistemic and physical violence. At the same time, hegemonic forces often appropriate such projects of recreating histories. Such complex and often gendered histories suggest that we need to critically interrogate how memory projects are created, by whom, and to what ends. Members of this research cluster seek to explore memory as a form of politics in which different domains of knowledge and experience are brought together in unpredictable ways.

Members of this research cluster have met for three years – during which it has organized a research symposium, lectures by international scholars at York University and panels at feminist conferences. The cluster currently has a monthly reading group. Through collaborative and individual projects, they contribute to deeper understandings of significant issues and questions in the field. Faculty and students in the group come from York University, but also from other institutions in Canada and internationally. They represent a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, including sociology, gender and women studies, fine arts, environmental studies, Latin American Studies, South Asian Studies.

This research cluster has a number of goals:

  1. Thinking through the relationship between memory and memorialisation to explore a wide range of memory projects as they reconfigure, perform and transform (transnational) relations of power between individuals, communities, and the state in the aftermath of violence.
  2. Analyzing critically the process of memorialization.
  3. Examining feminist (re)constructions of memory. How memory projects can be acts of resistance and contestation to the hegemonic when they seek to excavate and make known knowledge, experiences and forms of agency that have been hidden in history, reshaping and reimagining our understandings of history and subjectivity by bringing to the fore what the past means to those who have experienced its oppression
  4. Facilitating collaboration with scholars nationally and internationally.