A symposium, held on 21st and 22nd April 2021, was organised by the Sebastian Bustamente-Brauning and Erica Capecchi from the SWWDTP Memory Studies Research Cluster.
The main intent of the event was to bring together a varied group of contributors including PhD students, academics, artists, writer, and museum professionals to discuss issues concerning memory, accountability, and ways of interpreting the past in the present and for the future. Our aim was to promote a cross-disciplinary conversation, from diverse geographic, disciplinary, and socio-political and historical contexts.
Even though we had to postpone this symposium due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the main objectives of the event remained the same after the Call for Papers was first published in 2020. The themes we originally chose continued to reverberate when we reopened our call for papers.
Following the global Black Lives Matter protests and intensification of the movement’s activities following the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, accountability became a key focus for the symposium. Accountability can be the way in which the past can serve to create understanding in the present and provide a guide for the future.
Our panels provided an excellent opportunity to explore comprehensive perspectives on memory studies. Our keynote plenary with Joy Gregory, Dan Hicks, and Alfredo Jaar was an incredibly fruitful and insightful session which would not have happened without the DTP’s support. Our keynotes’ presentations enriched and strengthened the meaning of the overall event which was a vital networking opportunities for cluster members and attendees.
Black Lives Matter protest with quote from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison: I would not call today’s verdict justice, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability. Which is the first step towards justice.
This event presented an excellent profile-raising endeavour for the Memory Studies Research Cluster and the SWWDTP. Global attendees and participants learned about the Partnership’s and Cluster’s activities as well as the research and work of our speakers.
Following on from the successes of this event, we were able to invite some PGRs who presented at our symposium to our Memory Studies Roundtable as part of the SWWDTP Summer Festival on the theme of Futures. DTP cluster members and this extended network were able to fruitfully continue discussions started at the symposium to ponder the ways in which the past can give meaning to the present and future and demonstrated the strengths of this interdisciplinary way of working and connecting with one another.
We would like to extend our thanks once again to all who participated and our dedicated team of consortium members who worked presented, chaired panels, and helped us with technicalities needed for this event.
Sebastian Bustamente-Brauning and Erica Capecchi, SWWDTP Memory Studies Research Cluster
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