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IPP Workshop Series: Vera Herold: Whose (Hi)story Gets Told? Memory and the Archive

When Feb 14, 2019
from 02:00 to 04:00
Where Phil I, Building B, R.025
Contact Name
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Whose (Hi)story Gets Told? Memory and the Archive

 

Our memories are immaterial and embodied, because they reside in individuals. They are often deemed unreliable because humans are subjective and ruled by self-interest, unlike documents, which are material and reside in archives and are the basis of historiographic account. However, archives are constituted by archons who have the power to ‘identify’ the archive material, by deciding what is archived, and to ‘arrange’ it, by defining how the archive is accessed. Thus some accounts are favoured and perpetuated while others are ignored (Derrida, 1995). Collective memory practices and official memory discourse that are shaping the public perception of the past are always enmeshed with the archive.

 

Micro-history, oral history, and memory studies challenge the archive by zooming in on a microcosm, drawing on personal accounts, or engaging with mnemonic practices. They all problematize “history’s silent assumptions” (Bal, 1999). As memories are non-linear, incomplete, and often contradictory, they require a conceptual toolbox when they are narrated by rememberers or invoked through private documents, ad-hoc archives or cultural objects. Sometimes, memories surface in the second or third generation, becoming postmemories.

 

In this workshop we will discuss how memories can help illuminate, challenge and even contradict official discourse. How can the archive and its historiographic power be deconstructed? Which alternative archives can be constructed and, finally, what happens when we use alternative archives or memories to retell a (hi)story?

 

Memory / Postmemory / Archive / (hi)story


//Vera Herold

 

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