“Genocide Memorialisation: Political Imaginaries and Public Materialities” conference

“Genocide Memorialisation: Political Imaginaries and Public Materialities” conference

University of Gothenburg

From An emotional map. Projects for Plaszow and Liban, 2013–. Courtesy of Monika Gromala and Marta Swietlik.

November 7, 2017
“Genocide Memorialisation: Political Imaginaries and Public Materialities” conference
November 30–December 1, 2017
University of Gothenburg
Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts
Box 141
SE-40530 Gothenburg


Presented by Valand Academy in partnership with the School of Global Studies and the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies, University of Gothenburg

This is a free public event, however, advance booking is recommended as places are limited. Register here

This conference is an opportunity for artists, curators, commissioners, scholars and researchers across the arts, humanities and social sciences to consider the highly specific, but nonetheless pervasive cultural phenomenon, of public commemoration of genocide and mass killing. The conference wishes to consider the unsettling intersection of questions of mass murder, historicisation, memory-work, artistic production and public culture at a time marked by the resurgence of xenophobic, ethno-nationalist and racist mobilisations.

Drawing upon a diverse range of memorialisation strategies (from the formal museum to informal folk monument; from cinema to performance) and considering a widely dispersed range of contexts of mass killing and genocide (including the Holocaust, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, former Yugoslavia, and European colonial genocides) the conference seeks to consider the diverse ways in which contemporary political imaginaries materialise and perform memory-work.

Speakers include: James E. Young, Esther Shalev Gerz, Patrick Amsellem, Jeremiah Day, Savina Sirik, Diana Popescu, Kenneth Hermele, Mangalika de Silva, Hasini Haputhanthri, Camilla Orjuela, Ernest Mutwararasibo, Natasha Maria-Llorens, Marie-Aude Baronian, Monika Gromala and Marta Świetlik, Jeremiah Garsha, Anna Dasović, Lauren Thompson, Chin-Wei Chang and Mick Wilson.

Moderators include: Niclas Östlind, Daniel Jewesbury, Alyssa Grossman, Kjell Caminha and Maddie Leach.

The construction of genocide memorials raises a wide range of questions in terms of the political imaginaries and rhetorics operative (perpetrators, “victims”, “bystanders”, the state, the national, the cosmopolitan, the human, the people) and with respect to the modes of materialisation and public address employed (place, material, form, authorship, rhetorical address, temporality/durability, representational codes and conventions). While there are many factors informing the growth of memorialisation, one of the recurrent claims for the task of commemoration has been to work against history repeating itself and to promote historical knowledge and understanding. Given the political currency given to xenophobic propositions for the exclusion of whole categories of people, and the renewed contestation of the discourse of the monument, the current conditions and functions of genocide memorialisation would seem to warrant careful re-examination. These questions have a special urgency within the current conjuncture, paradoxically marked by the continued expansion of memory culture and by the waning of reflective historical consciousness (overwhelmed by various reductive populisms and the systematic undermining of public critical discourse).


Valand Academy provides international masters programs and continuing professional development courses in film, in photography and in contemporary art rooted in independent artistic practice.

Contact: Paulin Nande, paulin.nande [​at​] gu.se

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University of Gothenburg
November 7, 2017

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