P207
Telling, remembering and presenting the past: nostalgia as a cultural practice

Convenors:
Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto (University of Jyväskylä)
Lena Marander-Eklund (Åbo Akademi University)
Chair:
Lena Marander-Eklund & Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto
Location:
ID, Piso 0, Room 01
Start time:
19 April, 2011 at 11:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

In this session, we wish to discuss nostalgia and various ways of representing the past—materially, verbally, visually, through custom, habit, or enactment. We encourage papers that deal with the complexity of nostalgia, both in theoretical and practical ways.

Long abstract:

Nostalgia enables people to generate meaning in the present by drawing on selective visions of the past. Often the nostalgic impulse emerges during times of change, seeking continuity amid the threats of discontinuity, remembering or imagining a better past that serves as a critique of the present and a model for a preferable future. The intellectual history of nostalgia as a concept has its roots in seventeenth- through nineteenth-century medical and psychological discourse, and today it retains earlier connotations of pathology and aberration. Often seen as an emotional response, nostalgia may be dismissed, derided, or indeed attacked as a drain on the modernizing impulse, a romantic malaise. Lately, however, many scholars have joined in a re-evaluation of nostalgia, considering both cases in which nostalgia is enervating and reactionary and cases in which it is enabling and progressive. Nostalgia may be best appreciated in value-neutral terms as a cultural practice, not a given content, that may support or be supported by any number of agendas. In this session, we wish to discuss nostalgia and various ways of representing the past—materially, verbally, visually, through custom, habit, or enactment. We encourage papers that deal with the complexity of nostalgia, both in theoretical and practical ways. How do we recognize nostalgia? Does all reminiscence or commemoration involve nostalgia? When and why does nostalgia emerge, what needs does nostalgia meet, and to what ends is nostalgia used?