The Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory | Nordic Regional Group NUBS 4.06
Jul 04, 2023 15:45 - 17:15(Europe/London)
20230704T1545 20230704T1715 Europe/London 2.17. Nordic experiences of unlearning and reinstating coloniality of memory

The panel examines the colonial entanglements in the historical memory and memory institutions of the Nordic countries. The Nordic countries have been marked by their historical participation in the European colonization of the world but also by internal colonization of Sami territories and in the Arctic. Denmark and Sweden profited from the Atlantic slave trade, had colonies in the West Indies, and extracted resources from their northern internal and overseas colonies. National identities and other imageries in the Nordic countries have been marked by the colonial involvement. Art and cultural historical institutions such as national museums have been active in creating and sustaining colonial imaginaries including national identities based on whiteness. Nordic modernism, including welfare states, served to simultaneously establish the claim that the Nordics have been untouched by colonial and racist dynamics and maintain a Nordic exceptionalism. Colonial imaginaries are part of cultural memory in the Nordic and surface in multiple ways, including internal border policing seen in stigmatization of certain neighborhoods and in popular culture (such as the Swedish police series Den tunna blå linjen/The Thin Blue Line). Drawing on Ariella Aïsha Azoulay's concept of "unlearning imperialism" through the lens of "potential history" (2019) the panel explores cases when colonial difference is being critically examined, forcefully challenged, or reinstated by different actors. The division of knowledge alongside the lines of "what is human" and "what is not human" is inherent to the epistemic frameworks of the Western modernity, therefore it is important to address the work of memory that challenges these frameworks.

Rebecka Katz Thor

Vulnerable Memories: A Mon ...

NUBS 4.06 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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The panel examines the colonial entanglements in the historical memory and memory institutions of the Nordic countries. The Nordic countries have been marked by their historical participation in the European colonization of the world but also by internal colonization of Sami territories and in the Arctic. Denmark and Sweden profited from the Atlantic slave trade, had colonies in the West Indies, and extracted resources from their northern internal and overseas colonies. National identities and other imageries in the Nordic countries have been marked by the colonial involvement. Art and cultural historical institutions such as national museums have been active in creating and sustaining colonial imaginaries including national identities based on whiteness. Nordic modernism, including welfare states, served to simultaneously establish the claim that the Nordics have been untouched by colonial and racist dynamics and maintain a Nordic exceptionalism. Colonial imaginaries are part of cultural memory in the Nordic and surface in multiple ways, including internal border policing seen in stigmatization of certain neighborhoods and in popular culture (such as the Swedish police series Den tunna blå linjen/The Thin Blue Line). Drawing on Ariella Aïsha Azoulay's concept of "unlearning imperialism" through the lens of "potential history" (2019) the panel explores cases when colonial difference is being critically examined, forcefully challenged, or reinstated by different actors. The division of knowledge alongside the lines of "what is human" and "what is not human" is inherent to the epistemic frameworks of the Western modernity, therefore it is important to address the work of memory that challenges these frameworks.



Rebecka Katz Thor

Vulnerable Memories: A Monument to Swedish Colonialism

In 2019, GIBCA, the Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Art in Gothenburg launched a three-year project centered around the idea of building a monument to Swedish colonialism at Franska Tomten, adjacent to Gothenburg harbor. Franska Tomten is an integral part of the larger negotiation that enabled Swedish colonialism in the West Indies, as it was given to France in exchange for the island St Barthelemy in 1784. GIBCA invited artists, curators, and researchers to reflect on the past and present implications of the site and to propose interventions in the form of artworks, but a monument has not been realized. This presentation offers a reflection on the implications of GIBCA's proposal and why there were no interests from the public funding to produce such a monument.


Magdalena Zolkos

Blubber Memory: The Fetish Structure of Coloniality and Extractive Economies of the Arctic

In the history of Arctic colonization, harvesting blubber was a key factor underpinning the transformation of indigenous sustenance economies into profit-oriented markets, harnessed into global structures of consumption and demand. As the 'gold of the Arctic', blubber, and the enormously lucrative Euro-American whaling industries centered around its access and extraction, forms a kind of 'master signifier' in the colonial memory discourses of the region. In the paper I map out narrative and pictorial mnemonic 'blubber archives', primarily in relation to Greenland, but also Spitzbergen, and argue that, irreducible to accounts of its material profitability, the 18th and 19th century blubber economy also requires a reflection on the place of desire and fantasy in colonial memory formation. Drawing on the cultural psychoanalytic concept of a fetish and fetish-structure, I argue that in the colonial memory of the Arctic blubber functioned as a phantasmatic "stand-in" – a substitutive object that metonymically relates to violence (social, environmental, political) that is simultaneously acknowledged and disavowed in these mnemonic archives. In the final part of the paper, I discuss the use of blubber by the Greenlandic artist Jessie Kleeman in her performances and suggest their critical import is due to Kleeman's breaking through blubber's colonial fetish-structure.


Robert Nilsson Mohammadi

Exit Strategies: Remembering Racist Attacks in the Nordic and Beyond

Between 2003 and 2010 Malmö, Sweden, was terrorized by a so-called lone wolf terrorist who made use of the city's crime-image to move far right ideology in society. By attacking people seen as non-white in a city seen to be drawn below by migration's undercurrents, he could operate for a long time without detection. Institutional responses to his crimes stigmatized his victims as well as the groups they were seen to belong to. A counter-memory has however been seen to form as journalists, film-makers, and scholars produce representations that constitute diegetic worlds unscripted by white hegemony and in which subjects otherwise split by racialization can speak congruently. This is happening in a society with a national identity exceptionally bound up on (disavowing) whiteness. In 2019 a local victims' and survivors' initiative started the work to create an antiracist memory-site in the city. The city's political leadership was soon to answer to the call and has also invested resources, time and prestige in the project. An antiracist monument is expected to be inaugurated in 2025. The municipality has however chosen ways of working that undermine both the mobilization of communities racialized as non-white and the memory-work. Rather, the expertise of artists has replaced the local community's collected experience, and the deracialized subjectivity on the verge of articulation has been interrupted. In its own particular ways, this seems to be a reprise of German victims' and survivors' initiatives' experiences of having been marginalized by municipalities and other authorities. This paper will compare and contrast the case in Malmö with German cases but also with the memory-formation after the far right-attacks in Oslo and on Utøya in 2011. It will also discuss how racist attacks can be remembered by the targeted communities in order for them to become more resilient by remembering racism. 

PhD, Researcher
,
Stockholm University
Associate Professor
,
University of Jyväskylä
Dr./Associate Senior Lecturer
,
Malmö universitet
 Ulla Savolainen
Researcher
,
University of Helsinki / Department of Cultures
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