Canada National Network | Memory and Diverse Belongings TFDC 1.16
Jul 04, 2023 15:45 - 17:15(Europe/London)
20230704T1545 20230704T1715 Europe/London 2.13. Mnemonic tensions in Canada

Much of collective memory literature takes it as an often unspoken assumption that collective remembering is a salutary process bringing a sense of worth, deepening calls for justice, affirming the downtrodden. In this panel, we want to complicate this picture as we consider what is enabled and limited, what is sustained or transformed, what is disarmed or hidden and what is made visible in the way stories of the past circulate in public sphere. In other words, we look to structuring effects of collective memory, effects which are generative in multiple and often polyvalent ways.Our case is contemporary Canada, or Canada placed in comparative setting, and our papers explore the long shadow cast by the way museum collections were gathered, the froth productive force of monuments and historic sites organizing public spaces, the creative power of elite story telling of the national past as well as constraining influence of the official multicultural rhetoric; and we look to how memory narratives infuse calls for justice and redress with deep meaning, but also how they justify the exclusions and denial of rights.

Rebecca Dolgoy

A National Collection?: Querying "Representation" at Ingenium – Canada's Museums of Science and InnovationNot everyone thinks of science and technology museums as sites of representation. Fewer still consider how the collections that inform the mediated museum spaces have likely developed unevenly and with more attention paid to representing technology than to representing different knowledge-making or keeping communities. As the Curator of Natural Resources and Industrial Technologies at Ingenium – Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation, I am constantly contending with both the enabling and limiting effects of collecti ...

TFDC 1.16 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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Much of collective memory literature takes it as an often unspoken assumption that collective remembering is a salutary process bringing a sense of worth, deepening calls for justice, affirming the downtrodden. In this panel, we want to complicate this picture as we consider what is enabled and limited, what is sustained or transformed, what is disarmed or hidden and what is made visible in the way stories of the past circulate in public sphere. In other words, we look to structuring effects of collective memory, effects which are generative in multiple and often polyvalent ways.

Our case is contemporary Canada, or Canada placed in comparative setting, and our papers explore the long shadow cast by the way museum collections were gathered, the froth productive force of monuments and historic sites organizing public spaces, the creative power of elite story telling of the national past as well as constraining influence of the official multicultural rhetoric; and we look to how memory narratives infuse calls for justice and redress with deep meaning, but also how they justify the exclusions and denial of rights.



Rebecca Dolgoy

A National Collection?: Querying "Representation" at Ingenium – Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation

Not everyone thinks of science and technology museums as sites of representation. Fewer still consider how the collections that inform the mediated museum spaces have likely developed unevenly and with more attention paid to representing technology than to representing different knowledge-making or keeping communities. As the Curator of Natural Resources and Industrial Technologies at Ingenium – Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation, I am constantly contending with both the enabling and limiting effects of collection development strategies that predate my time at the institution and that do not conform to contemporary ethical museology. This manifests in all of our collection-based practices ranging from the catalogue to how material is stored. Inheriting the stewardship of a collection means inheriting the biases and blind spots of previous stewards. My presentation seeks to explore the challenges of representing both regional and cultural diversity with the Ingenium Collection. While there are both logistical and contingent reasons for these challenges, the compulsion to engage with communities is a relatively new phenomenon in the science and technology museum world. In addition to describing some of the challenges, I will share several examples where I feel we are more successful as well as our new Collection Development Strategy which will underpin our work going forward.


Kate Korycki

Canadian nationalism and a mnemonic shock

In May 2021 mass graves of Indigenous children began to be uncovered on sites of former Residential Schools in Canada. Four such sites were found thus far, but more are expected to come to light. These painful discoveries are the latest addition to the intensified conversation about the past occurring in Canada, but their magnitude is seen as a powerful shock to the Canadian national self-understanding. The proposed paper explains this shock by examining how political elites tell the story of the Canadian past, and how, in the process, they construct the imaginary of the contemporary 'we.' Specifically, the paper identifies the mechanisms by which 'majorities' are constituted as not-knowing, not-benefiting and innocent of the pain of the 'minorities.' Theoretically, the paper locates at the intersection of collective memory, critical whiteness and nationalism studies. It assumes that a) social remembering pulls and arranges from the past that which it posits as important in the present, and b) in doing so, it specifies and justifies stratified positions constituting the contemporary national identity. Empirically, the paper examines all speeches referencing history made by Prime Minister Trudeau since 2015, and it gets to their meaning through content and discourse analysis. The study is rooted in my position as white immigrant-settler in Canada, one with purchase on the privilege of whiteness and experience of otherness, both; and it rests on a normative conviction, that no reconciliation or decolonization are possible without critical engagement with processes by majorities are created as innocent.


Kad Mariano

Re-Interpreting Reconciliation: Indigenous Memory Activism in Toronto's Spirit Garden

Through the localization of Canada's memory prerogative of truth and reconciliation for cultural genocide, the City of Toronto openly condemns the traditional colonial relations of overt domination. Instead, the municipality espouses a reconciliatory relationship premised on the public acceptance and inclusion of Indigenous people and cultures. The announcement of the Indigenous Residential School Survivors Legacy project or the Spirit Garden, a collaborative initiative with Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre dedicated to residential school survivors, victims, and their families, in 2017 exemplifies this different relationship.

Drawing from interviews with relevant actors and archival research of municipal documents and those of Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, this paper presents the Spirit Garden in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square as a case study for understanding the trajectory of reconciliation and urban Indigenous memory activism in Canada. I argue that because of the dominant role Indigenous people play in the Spirit Garden's realization and management, these Indigenous memory activists are able to strategically employ the collective memory of Indigenous residential schools to navigate through the Canadian settler-colonial state's culturalist and multiculturalist discourses. Their strategies establish a space that publicly signals the flourishment of Indigenous cultures and presences within the City of Toronto, allowing Indigenous people to participate actively in the political and social environment of the municipality.

However, following Nancy Fraser's distinction between redistributive and recognition frameworks, this paper also analyzes whether and to what degree the strategies adopted by these Indigenous memory activists conform to or challenge Canada's multiculturalist framework and the structure of settler colonialism. How does the public acceptance and inclusion of Indigenous cultures affect Canada's contemporary nation-building practices and national identity? How does it influence the socio-political dynamics between settlers and Indigenous people? And what does it entail for future reconciliatory projects in Toronto and Canada?


Melissa Levin and Sam Longford

Remembering and forgetting the anti-apartheid struggle on the streets of Ekurhuleni, South Africa, and colonial genocide in a former Residential School in Brantford, Canada.

This paper focuses on a series of post-apartheid memorial sites in Ekurhuleni, South Africa, including a number on the Khumalo Street corridor in Thokoza and the Chris Hani memorial in Boksburg, and in Brantfort, Canada, the Woodland Cultural Centre (WCC), a museum and memorial to the Mohawk Institute, one of Canada's 130 notorious residential schools. In terms of the former, this paper seeks to analyse the ways in which apartheid violence and the anti-apartheid struggle have been memorialised in Ekurhuhleni. Although differing in their scale and intent, we argue that the Hani Memorial and the Khumalo Street memorial corridor are monumental sites that produce a unifying message of post-apartheid nationhood and reconciliation, and, albeit in different ways, depoliticize forms of violence that remain in apartheid's wake. The Woodland Cultural Centre, on the other hand, has preserved the residential school as a museum where small, everyday and seemingly innocuous and mundane items that have been found there (like candy wrappers) are preserved and used to narrate the stories of violence against indigenous children by the church and state. Like the South African examples, memory's objective is reconciliation (the memorial derives its mandate from the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission). As such, the museum can be absorbed as a sign of Canadian multiculturalism. However, unlike the South African examples, the museum resists the imperative of Canadian national identity to absolve itself and instead, we argue, stands as an intervention into the colonialism of the present. By placing these two examples together, we hope to offer a means through which to understand the contested and negotiated ways in which apartheid and colonialism is remembered/forgotten, but also to begin to come to terms with present forms of violence which bear the hallmarks of apartheid and colonialism's othering practices. 

Curator of Natural Resources and Industrial Technologies
,
Ingenium
Assistant Professor
,
Western Univeristy
Student
,
York University
Assistant Professor, teaching stream
,
University of Toronto
Researcher, editor and postdoctoral fellow
,
Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape
Assistant Professor
,
Western Univeristy
 Alexandra Binnenkade
PD Dr.
,
University of Basel
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