The Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory TFDC 2.15
Jul 05, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230705T1100 20230705T1230 Europe/London 3.14. Colonial imaginaries and the politics of Space, Place and Memory

This panel explores entanglement of space and place with memory in colonial and decolonial politics. It explores how space/place interact in relation to both how past colonial practices are remembered and how contemporary colonial practices are intimately linked to discourses of the heritage of space/places. These memory politics of colonialism are extremely diverse from a reckoning with former brutality to memories of spaces/places which deny the coloniality of practices. The panel pulls together papers working on a diversity of contexts shaped by colonial forms of politics. Their explorations of the entanglement of space and place with memory are undertaken from different angles, examining both the discursive productions of memory and the significance of material remnants and ruins. However, all the papers speak to the ways in which memory and space/place are central to the formation of identities, the production of states and to the evolution of colonial imaginaries. 

Moriel Ram, Newcastle UniversityThe geopolitics of colonial memories: urban ruination and remembrance in Palestine/IsraelMy paper explores how urban ruins and ruination in violent settler-colonial settings formulate spatial articulations of colonial memories. I will examine Palestine/Israel's contested urban landscape as a palimpsest of ongoing struggle, where layers of material debris, memories and fantasies are intertwined, from ancient archaeological remains to recently demolished homes. More specifically, I will analyse the spatial articulation of urban memory as scars of warfare, representing traces of violence, repression and neglect and as living tissues in which people dwell, live and act. By taking the material, sensual, and more-than-representational features of the ruins into accoun ...

TFDC 2.15 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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This panel explores entanglement of space and place with memory in colonial and decolonial politics. It explores how space/place interact in relation to both how past colonial practices are remembered and how contemporary colonial practices are intimately linked to discourses of the heritage of space/places. These memory politics of colonialism are extremely diverse from a reckoning with former brutality to memories of spaces/places which deny the coloniality of practices. The panel pulls together papers working on a diversity of contexts shaped by colonial forms of politics. Their explorations of the entanglement of space and place with memory are undertaken from different angles, examining both the discursive productions of memory and the significance of material remnants and ruins. However, all the papers speak to the ways in which memory and space/place are central to the formation of identities, the production of states and to the evolution of colonial imaginaries. 



Moriel Ram, Newcastle University

The geopolitics of colonial memories: urban ruination and remembrance in Palestine/Israel

My paper explores how urban ruins and ruination in violent settler-colonial settings formulate spatial articulations of colonial memories. I will examine Palestine/Israel's contested urban landscape as a palimpsest of ongoing struggle, where layers of material debris, memories and fantasies are intertwined, from ancient archaeological remains to recently demolished homes. More specifically, I will analyse the spatial articulation of urban memory as scars of warfare, representing traces of violence, repression and neglect and as living tissues in which people dwell, live and act. By taking the material, sensual, and more-than-representational features of the ruins into account, I will argue that spatialised memory of political violence, colonial ruination, and potential recovery render Palestine/Israel's urban environment in a permanent state of geopolitical atrophy between violence and resilience, destruction and construction.


Dr. Chloe Josse-Durand

Competing (Hi)stories: Post-colonial Memory Politics in Kenya

In Kenya, the election of President Mwai Kibaki, (2007) and the devolution of power from the eight provinces to forty-seven counties (2013) ushered in a new era of memory politics. It has brought to the forefront the issue of the representation of communities whose history, struggles and culture have historically been marginalized by the central government and are not identified with the national dialectic.

In this presentation, I will examine the political dynamics surrounding various memorial institutions such as museums, mausoleums, jails, cemetery, and other memory spaces of colonial imprisonment in Kenya. I argue that despite being seldom examined by political science, these memory places are true socio-cultural puzzles that contribute to collective identity building by showing the complex articulation of colonial and post-colonial memory in the political domain.

To emphasize the uses of State but also more local memories in nation (re)building, I will present a variety of results that I have collected thanks to a micro-sociological and ethnographic approach. My second contribution will be to show how and why the pluralization of the memory of colonial brutality has led to the emergence of conflicting and competing memories, embedded in community-led museums or initiatives at a county level to restore, reinvent or publicize these memories.


Dr. Laura Routley and Yusuf Patel 

The afterlives of violence at sites of confinement and punishment in South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana

This paper examines the material legacies of violence both through and at ex-carceral sites in South Africa and West Africa (Ghana and Nigeria). The histories of these sites are stretch chronologically from James Fort's in Accra involvement in the Slave Trade to Constitution Hill built on the site of a notorious apartheid era prison including section number four where at points both Mandela and Gandhi were held. All the examined sites - Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, James Fort, Accra, and Freedom Park, Lagos, - are now heritage/tourist sites of some kind. This joint paper explores how the material architecture of these sites is implicated in the violence and what this means for their afterlives as sites of heritage and national memory.

Often these sites are seen to represent past ills, implicitly or explicitly contrasted the more prosperous, just, 'now'. However, as the paper acknowledges this narrative is often undercut by the sites themselves. In South Africa, over two decades after the end of a one of apartheid little action has been taken regarding aggrieved families. In Nigeria Freedom Park portrayed as a site exemplifying victory of colonialism is also the site that held political prisoners from the post-independence struggles over political power.

This paper asks key questions about how the implication of the architecture of these sites in the violence that took place within them has been addressed or not addressed within their transformation into heritage sites. It explores the ways in which these sites continue to play significant roles in the production of political futures and asks how much these engage fully with the violence of these sites or instrumentalise them.

Lecturer in Politics of the Global South
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Newcastle University
Doctor in Political Science/Research Associate
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Newcastle University
Senior Lecturer
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Newcastle University
Architect, PhD Student and Researcher
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Newcastle University
 Catherine Gilbert
NUAcT Fellow in Modern Languages
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Newcastle University
 Catherine Gilbert
NUAcT Fellow in Modern Languages
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Newcastle University
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