Violence and memory

Katharina Schramm (University of Bayreuth)
Nicolas Argenti (Brunel University)
Nicolas Argenti / Katharina Schramm
Peter Loizos
Chem LT2
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Given that traumatic memory is widely acknowledged to lie beyond the reach of verbal exegesis, this panel examines how memories of violent events are produced and transmitted by means of indigenous epistemologies, historiographies and social practices.

Long abstract:

Psychologists have done a great deal of research on the effects of trauma on the individual, revealing the paradox that the most violent experiences are often secreted away beyond easy accessibility, and are often impossible to verbalise explicitly. Comparatively little research has been done on the transgenerational effects of trauma, or the means whereby dissociative experiences might be transmitted from person to person across time and become an intrinsic part of the social fabric. <br/>The 20th century in Europe posed a fundamental problem for historians, revealing as it did that regimes of terror are somehow beyond the scope of historical record. World wars and genocides have fragmented knowing and problematised our epistemological models, challenging us to conceive of alternative conceptions of trauma and memory. Previously, the colonial experience of the 19th and early 20th centuries and the preceding period of the transatlantic slave trade exposed those under European domination to violent political upheavals that have generated similar methodological challenges regarding how we research events so far outside normal human experience that they seem to have effaced their own record even as they occurred. <br/>This panel seeks to explore ethnographic contributions to the question of how memory is produced and transmitted by means of indigenous epistemologies and historiographies as well as by social and cultural practices that favour experience over knowledge and embodied practices over archival bodies of evidence. <br/>How do people remember the past? How does violence affect remembering? What is the relationship of remembering to forgetting? How does individual memory contribute to social memory and vice versa? <br/>By addressing these issues, this panel hopes to address the experiential, subjective aspects of violent histories and traumatic memories as well as the wider politics of representation that go along with them.