The 2019 Call for Papers
Why Remember? Memory in Times of War and Its Aftermath
Border Poetics and Politics: 1989 and the Fall of the Wall
July 9th-July 10th, 2019
Hotel Europe, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Keynote Speaker: Mladen Miljanović, Artist, http://www.mladenmiljanovic.com/
Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Salem State University
Holocaust, Genocide & Interfaith Education Center, Manhattan College
London College of Communication, University of the Arts London
WARM Festival, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Dr. Paul Lowe, University of the Arts, London, UK
Dr. Stephenie Young, Salem State University, USA
Admir Jugo, Ph.D. Candidate, Durham University, UK
Dr. Mehnaz Afridi, Manhattan College, USA
Dr. Manca Bajec, Independent Artist, UK
Velma Saric, Post-Conflict Research Center, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
In his book, In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies, David Rieff questions whether the age-long “consensus that it is moral to remember, immoral to forget” still stands in our contemporary era. What should we remember, what should we forget, and why? Do we need to reconfigure the way that we think about memory and its potential impact on issues such as reconciliation and healing in the wake of war? Is memory impotent as a social, political, or aesthetic tool? Rieff’s questions appear more pertinent than ever as wars and conflicts continue to rage in many parts of the world with no end in sight.
These questions of memory (and forgetting) are intensely political and have far-reaching consequences. Yet, how do they reverberate in the context of post-war societies, post-conflict reconciliation, conflict prevention, questions of memory and past events? To what extent do we remember the past and how do we choose what to remember and why we remember? How could and should (consciously and unconsciously) memory processes shape the present and future? How might public institutions (such as museums and other heritage sites that support education/awareness) deal with the past? What is the difference between commemoration and memorialization? Where do they intersect and how might they impact the process of reconciliation and prevention? What are landscapes of memory?
"The Wall will be standing in 50 and even in 100 years"
- GDR head of state Erich Honecker, East Berlin, January 19th, 1989
For summer 2019 we continue our conversation on aesthetics that we initiated in our 2017 conference in Sarajevo but with a specific focus on the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to mark this important 30-year anniversary. The Berlin wall as a physical, geographical, conceptual and theoretical space, has made and continues to make a significant impact on global politics as part of a greater discussion about what we refer to as “border poetics and politics.” Global society continues to grapple with significant border-related issues that so many are directly or indirectly affected by. For example, UNHCR currently report that as many as 68.5 million people https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html have been forced out of their homes, and for many border disputes are part of the displacement. From the U.S/Mexican “wall” debate, to the ever-shifting borders of Crimea and the Caucasus, to the still unsettled territories of the former Yugoslavia, the way that borders are represented through the lens of aesthetics and memory is now, more than ever, of interest. For this conference we are seeking papers that address how the memory of both pre-1989 and post-1989 has been constructed, reconstructed, and even annihilated over the past three decades. We are concerned with aesthetic representations and practices that analyze and engage in border politics, and that address the formation, status and challenges faced by communities interacting with or living at the border regions.
Papers might consider the contemporary status of issues that not only directly address the politics and representation of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the former Soviet Union and its associated regimes, but of borders in a more general global perspective.
Our guiding questions include: What constitutes a border? How are literary and artistic border stories used both as a hegemonic discourse to support the status quo and as a counter-discourse of resistance to the status quo? How are communities established around borders and what impact might they have on a community? What kind of aesthetic intervention does visual culture, such as photography or painting, play in these considerations? Can art transform a contested border from a “barrier,” through which the other side is invisible, to a place where reconciliation, cooperation, coexistence and visibility can then take place?
We seek papers from a wide-range of historical and geographical spaces that address the discursive limits of contemporary memory studies, particularly drawing on these areas of study:
• Film/Media Studies
• Comparative Literature/Narrative/Fiction/Non-Fiction/Poetry
• Museum Studies/New Materialism
• Politics and Aesthetics
• Visual Arts including Photography
**Inter/Trans disciplinary approaches are especially encouraged.
We welcome abstract submissions from early career researchers and post-docs as well as established scholars. We encourage applications from a range of academics including current PhD students, particularly from those outside of Western European institutions. All papers will be delivered in English. Paper proposals for a 20-minute presentation should include author name(s), affiliation(s), paper title, a paper abstract (300 words max), and short bio (200 words max).
This academic conference is part of the larger WARM festival, which takes place in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina each summer, and “is dedicated to war reporting, war art, war memory. WARM is bringing together people – journalists, artists, historians, researchers, activists – with a common passion for ‘telling the story with excellence and integrity’.” See this link for more information: http://www.warmfoundation.org
Registration cost: 150 Euros. Concessionary rates of 50 Euros are available for all graduate students, for faculty applying from non-EU/US institutions, and for those can present a case for reduced fees. We can also waive the conference fee for a number of attendees; this is need-based. Information about hostels and hotels will be provided for participants upon acceptance and on our website.
Please submit your proposals no later than March 1st, 2019 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Acceptance decisions will be made by before the end of March and all applicants will be contacted.
I am delighted to report that I am a contributing writer on a new book on photography edited by Paul Lowe. Check out the link above to see the American edition.
I'll be taking part in a workshop and symposium at the USHMM the first week of October. On October 4th I'm talking about post-conflict art in former Yugoslavia on a panel entitled "Opportunities and Challenges to the Study of Traumatic Material Culture" in the museum's auditorium. You can see more about the program here:
Kuma International, Sarajevo; International Summer School on Contemporary Art in Bosnia and Herzegovina; June 25th-30th, 2018
During the last week of June 2018, I have been invited to give a workshop lecture at a summer school for a new NGO in Sarajevo called Kuma International. This NGO is run by Sarajevo resident, Italian curator Claudia Klara-Zini, who is working hard to organize this first summer school on post-conflict contemporary art from BiH. I'll be posting more about this event in the next month, but some general info and a link to her Facebook page are below.
INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL
ON CONTEMPORARY ART FROM BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Sarajevo, June 25th-30th 2018
APPLICATION DEADLINE: May 28th 2018
Kuma International in partnership with the WARM Foundation and Brodac Gallery presents one-week intensive course on contemporary art from Bosnia and Herzegovina, focusing on visual art, design, photography, film and theatre from a post-conflict society. Participation is open to graduates and postgraduates from the relevant disciplines, as well as art historians, curators, artists and museum professionals, and all people interested in training and developing new skills while experiencing a new and exciting learning environment in Sarajevo, the vibrant capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Kuma International Summer School
The first Kuma International Summer School focuses on the post-war artistic production from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Students will look at how artists from the region have been affected by the political turmoil of the 1990s and how they have processed the fall of Yugoslavia, the 1992-1995 war and its consequences through their art practices. Students will also have the unique chance to meet with local artists, explore the city’s museums and art galleries and visit artists’ studios. Addressing contemporary visual art produced in the context of conflict and trauma, Kuma’s first summer school and its local and international staff will provide a glimpse into the impact of war on local artists' aesthetics and narrative. At the same time, the school will look at the phenomenon of a new generation of visual artists and cultural workers belonging to the Bosnian diaspora who have started to come back to their country of origin out of a need to reconnect with their homeland and elaborate their traumatic war experience through art.
My essay on the work on Vladimir Miladinović will be coming out at the end of April titled: “Geographies of Loss: Testimony, Art and the After-Life of Batajnica’s Disappeared Objects.” In Getuigen tussen geschiedenis en herinnering (Testimony between history and memory). International peer-reviewed journal of the Auschwitz Foundation, Brussels.
Image: Gert Jan van Rooij
"Resolution 827" SMBA Amsterdam
This week I have the privilege of being the guest of Professor Mark Baskin and the faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Pristina, Kosovo. I have been able to meet their students and have had a lot of wonderful conversations about the intersections between my book project on memory politics in Bosnia and Serbia and student views on post-conflict Kosovo. I've been taking a lot of photographs, such as this one of the KLA cemetery and monument to Socialism in Yugoslavia.
The special issue of “The exhumed object: material traces of Mass death” is now online: https://www.cairn.info/revue-les-cahiers-sirice-2017-2.htm
The opening article has now been translated into English. Please see it here:
In December I wrote the exhibition introduction for an art show in Belgrade, Serbia:
HASANOVIĆ | MILADINOVIĆ
It opened on December 7th, 2017, at the Gallery PODROOM of the Cultural Centre of Belgrade. Please see my text below and a link to the website that published it in Serbian and English with the photos of the art. www.supervizuelna.com/hasanovic-miladinovic/
IMAGINATION. In their group exhibition visual artists Ibro Hasanović and Vladimir Miladinović have come together to prompt questions about the contemporary use of concepts such as “document” and “memory” and essentially, about what it means to imagine the past in the present and for the future. Hasanović creates subtle art that grapples with how national myth making and ideology form collective histories to which individuals — whether by choice or force — must succumb. Through re-presentations of old family films and photographs, devoid of contextual explanations, he calls on the viewer to engage his or her imagination about the subjects in front of them. In turn, this opens up the possibility for creating new conceptualizations of history and memory. Similarly, Miladinović creates works that push the limits of our imagination. With his ink wash drawings — traces of documents, bureaucratic lists, maps, forensic reports — he offers us his critical observation of how information is often “disappeared” into vast vaults, what we call “archives”, never to reappear again. Through his artistic technique he disinters and shows official information in an aesthetic form. This work then acts as both a form of a so-called testimony and as a creative space for the possibility of re-imagining a buried past. Together the two artists ask: What does it mean to imagine for ourselves when other entities — institutions, governments, authorities — are always prepared to do this for us? Is there a way to imagine a world that is not so heavily circumscribed by institutional imagination and desire?
DOCUMENT. Also at play in the works of Hasanović and Miladinović is that both confront and further complicate the contemporary conceptualization of the power of the document as a steadfast source of truth. Etymologically “to document” comes from the Latin docere meaning “to teach”. Yet the document today is frequently less about teaching and more often used as proof positive that something happened. Yet, instead of opening up dialogue the document is more often used to mark the end of the conversation and to disallow further debate. And it is this aim to “put an end to further questioning” in contemporary society that Thomas Keenan takes to task because, he says, to say that something is “documented” ultimately shuts down the possibility for critical thinking. Thus, the link between Keenan’s work and this exhibit is that both aim to expose that the document no longer successfully masquerades as a representation of absolute power, but must instead be revealed as form without content; stripped of its authority, it is immobilized, an empty signifier. The art of Hasanović and Miladinović beckons the viewer to look closely at the “documents” that they offer up in this exhibition. They entice the viewer to lean in, and to reflect on what it means to “document” and to “archive” the past in the present and for the future. Whether the source is one of Hasanović’s VHS tapes created by his father or one of Miladinović’s ink wash drawings of ICTY documents, act as what Tariq Jazeel and Nayanika Mookherjee refer to in their article “Aesthetics, Politics, Conflict”, as a “mobilization of aesthetics” in the face established and consensual truths, misinformation, and mutations of power.
MEMORY. Memory and the processes for remembering are also challenged in the art of Hasanović and Miladinović who draw attention to the complexity of trying to disentangle powerful discourses of institutional collective memory from individual, personal memory. Both artists are concerned about the way that individuals are pushed into the trap of grand narratives created by the state and other powerful institutions in the wake of calamity, which are essentially used to create, strengthen and/or maintain the physical and conceptual borders of that entity and to aid in the forgetting of other, seemingly silenced narratives. Instead, they struggle with the complexities of a concept that in BHS is Izrečena istorija, “rendered history.” Hasanović’s work mingles prose and poetics, aesthetics and form, as it presents the viewer with simple objects such as a film of children playing together on a winter day, as children might anywhere. Miladinović’s rendered documents depict how memory narratives are produced in the public sphere — narratives that are politically contaminated and largely determined by falsified histories and now requiring a fundamental reconsideration. Echoing Edward Said’s words about issues of representation, we can say that in this exhibit both artists show us “unconventional, hybrid, and fragmentary forms of expression . . . an alternative . . . to the one usually encountered in the media.” Thus, rather than creating an aesthetics of suffering to provoke explicit affective reactions, both artists attempt to create an alternative and thoughtful space of enunciation. They endeavor to generate a conversation with the dialectic of individual and collective memory — to challenge us, the viewers, to imagine a kind of memory that appeals to a world that is not purely subject to simple stereotypes and hegemonic archetypes.
Tariq Jazeel and Nayanika Mookherjee, “Aesthetics, Politics, Conflict.” Journal of Material Culture (2015) Vol. 20(4), 353-359.
Thomas Keenan/Hito Steyerl, “What is a Document an Exchange Between Thomas Keenan and Hito Steyerl.” Aperture 214 (2014), 58-64.
Edward Said, After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives. Columbia University Press, 1999.
Stephenie Young, “The Forensic Imagination: Evidence, Art and the Post-Yugoslav Document.” Mapping the ‘Forensic Turn’: The Engagements with Materialities of Mass Death in Holocaust Studies and Beyond. Ed. Zuzanna Dziuban. Vienna: New Academic Press, 2017. 221-239.
Mapping the ‚Forensic Turn‘: Engagements with Materialities of Mass Death in Holocaust Studies and Beyond, Editor Zuzanna Dziuban
I am delighted to announce that my essay, "The Forensic Imagination: Evidence, Art and the Post-Yugoslav Document," is part of this new book.
Overview of the Volume:
During recent decades, forensic investigation has become a standard response to the reality of mass graves resulting from genocides and various forms of political violence. From Argentina to Rwanda, from former Yugoslavia to Poland, the search for the sites of mass burial, the application of archaeological and forensic practices, and the use of advanced technologies to collect and analyse evidence have all played a major role in transforming former landscapes of violence into scenes of crime. Yet truth-finding is not the only driving force behind forensic investigations performed at the spaces marked by a difficult past: the issues of politics and justice are at stake, as are the dynamics of memory and mourning and of the future of post-conflict societies, framed through the prism of the relationships between the dead and the living. The diagnoses of the ‘forensic turn’ therefore open up a complex terrain shaped by the interplay of scientific protocols, political interest, ethical sensitivities, and materialities of mass death – bringing about a proliferation of practices and counter-practices, discourses and counterdiscourses, imageries and counter-imageries. Building upon this recognition, this book asks how the turn towards forensics both as a standardized practice in the search for and identification of bodies, as a paradigm shift in remembrance and as an emergent cultural sensitivity, extends beyond the sites where forensic science operates, and transforms the fields of social and human sciences, political activism, popular imagination, and art.
Born out of debates held during the international workshop Forensic Turn in Holocaust Studies at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute in June 2015, this book gathers contributions investigating theoretical, methodological, political and practical implications of the ‘forensic turn’ within and well beyond the (inter)disciplinary realm of Holocaust studies.
Amazon France Link:
Please see my article:
A "Living Memorial": Forensic Imaginings from the Inside of a Bosnian Mortuary Fridge
Here is the editor's description of the special issue:
Some of you might be interested in the special issue of Cahiers SIRICE edited by Sophie Baby and I. The exhumed object: material traces of the Mass Death is a collection of nine papers, in French and in English. It brings together historians, historians of art, archeologists, anthropologists working on mass graves and memory of mass violence. We chose to focus our attention on the objects exhumed from these mass graves and not only on bones and corpses. What do they tell us about the victims, about the perpetrated crimes? But also we worked on the "second life" of these objects after they were unearthed. What is to be done with them?