Conflict, Violence and Memory NUBS 4.20
Jul 06, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230706T0900 20230706T1030 Europe/London 5.20. Between Official and Counter-Memory NUBS 4.20 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
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Television and National Remembering in a Time of Crisis: A Multiscalar Approach
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 09:00 AM - 10:30 AM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 08:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 09:30:00 UTC
During the Soviet occupation, the official memory and narrative of the past in Lithuania aligned with the communist project. In the late 1980s, Lithuania saw the emergence of supressed memories that were mobilised as a tool to revive the nation and its desire for sovereignty. The independence movement gained strength, increasing numbers of people were questioning the status quo. Similar processes occurred in other Eastern European countries. With independence in 1991, the dominant narrative suddenly became shamed, criminalised, and lost its hegemonic status. However, memories suppressed for many years entered the official arena and were slowly institutionalised.
Thirty years after this transformation, contemporary Lithuania (and the region overall) has started to show increasing tensions between the nationalist project pursued by the political elites and memories held by the public. While state-led memory initiatives have focused on commemorating national suffering and resistance against the Soviet regime, other forms of public memory were more ambiguous, playful and ironic or showing sentimental attachment to the Soviet past. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed these dynamics yet again, evoking past memories of Russian/Soviet past violence and strengthening national sentiments among Lithuanians.
Thus, by conceptualising media as a tool of remembering, this project investigates national memory formation and mobilisation amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine. This project aims to investigate the current dynamics of collective memories focusing on official memory transmission through history films on public broadcasting television and the remembering practices among Lithuanian people. 
Empirically, this study focuses on the memory content produced by the Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT, which is particularly important in memory construction in Lithuania. I focus on the special film collection of "Freedom Films" [#Laisvės filmai], which was created by LRT as a direct response to the invasion in Ukraine. It holds 27 films that focus on either the interwar period, occupation, or independence with one key theme - freedom. The films in the collection were partially or fully funded by the government. Thus, to understand representations of the past at the official level, a narrative analysis of the film collection produced by the Lithuanian public broadcaster will be presented. 
This presentation will offer preliminary findings of this project. It will argue that, as communities in Europe are experiencing change, collective memory plays an important role in shaping that change. However, the relationship between that change and collective memory comes with multiple complexities, especially when we think about official memory production generated in times of crisis. Particularly, it will focus on the intersection of memory and media – it will aim to show that films based on collective memory are powerful, although also somewhat predictable, tools for collective memory transmission. It will investigate and challenge particular symbols employed and will systemise commonalities and differences between them. Finally, it will analyse how and to what extent these films can help to understand memory production and circulation in the midst of the war in Ukraine by considering how these films may shape an already complex relationship with the past in Lithuania.
Brigita Valantinaviciute
Doctoral Researcher , Loughborough University
Living with the Unknown, Unmourned Dead: Communitarian Strategies for Reintegrating the Anonymous Death in Everyday Life (Colombia, 1970-2000)
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
Since the late 1970s, unidentified dead bodies have become a major public issue in Colombia. In tandem with the upsurge of the internal armed conflict and drug trafficking, thousands of nameless corpses –termed N.N.s– appeared along highways, rivers, and clandestine graves. Although this was not a new phenomenon, the sudden increase in N.N.s sparked public controversy. Different actors with diverse perspectives and expertise participated in the struggle to define what constituted the proper treatment of these corpses and how to overcome their namelessness. The outcome of these struggles was the definition of unidentified corpses as likely victims of enforced disappearance. Ultimately, the unknown dead bodies' potential status as victims of political violence generated unexpected connections between the rights of the living and the dead and opened the space to promote better practices for caring for the deceased.
Acknowledgment of the entangled relationship between forced disappearance and unidentified dead bodies was possible only after a long process of uneven state responses, political advocacy from civil society, and grassroots strategies to coexist with the unnamed dead bodies. This paper examines the role of individuals and local communities that devised strategies to cope with these bodies' presence in daily life. By exploring their involvement in this problem, we can broaden our understanding of how the ubiquity of death transforms societies torn by armed conflicts
The fragmented and contradictory state responses regarding the phenomenon of the anonymous death generated some interstices in which other non-state actors created practices to reintegrate the dead into the social fabric. My preliminary evidence suggests that members of communities promoted initiatives founded on the idea that the unknown should be publicly acknowledged and treated with dignity. People sponsored individual interments of nameless bodies, subsidized funeral expenses, and even created cemeteries for interring unidentified corpses. In this way, communities "made the everyday inhabitable" by assimilating nameless bodies into the weave of the ordinary (Das, 2007; Rojas-Perez, 2017). 
In some cases, the steady arrival of unidentified corpses led local communities to develop new mortuary practices that established original connections between the living and the unknown, unmourned dead. With practices informed mainly by Christian beliefs about souls in purgatory and notions of "good death," people devised strategies and worship rituals to cope with the ubiquity of death (Taussig, 1989; Villa Posse, 1993; Will de Chaparro, 2007). Local community members created reciprocal relationships with the dead, often expressed in terms of kinship. The latter benefited from the attention of community members, who defined the unknown as providers of favors and protection. 
Although communities could not always enact overt practices dealing with nameless bodies-due to violent coercion-they nevertheless developed actions oriented to preserve the traces of unidentified bodies. This paper seeks to disinter the relationships between the living and the dead and reveal how local actors reintegrated the unidentified deceased into the dynamics of everyday life.
Presenters Natalia Mahecha-Arango
PhD Candidate, New York University
Memory School Museums: New opportunities for Historical Culture and Historical Consciousness?
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
The commemoration of the violent past is one field within the memories that are rapidly shifting, and their reconfiguration has been dramatic. Evidence of this has been the proliferation of memorial museums that commemorate specific events that have produced deep human suffering, as well as memory museums in which victims' testimonies are the cornerstones of the narrative model that they mobilize in alignment with the 'never again' principle (Williams, 2011; Sodaro, 2018; Arnold-de Simine, 2013).
To a large extent, it has had to do with the advent of a distinct historical regime that some have named 'presentism' (Hartog, 2015). In addition, it is related to the tendency towards a more 'participative historical culture' (Grever and Adriaansen, 2017), within which the 'memory boom' has to be understood as one expression (Levy, 2010; Blight, 2009). Articulately, from the micro-level, local communities have turned to mnemonic structures such as schools and museums to make sense of their individual and collective war experiences to be recognized in the public sphere.
In Colombia, after years of implementing transitional justice measures and amid the implementation of the 2016 peace agreement, it is possible to observe the emergence of memory school museums in different regions of the country. The individual paper will focus on these museums developed by teachers and students with pedagogic and restorative intentions. From the disciplinary field of historical culture, it is possible to explore the origins of these local examples of memorial museums, setting a dialogue with other disciplines such as museum studies, memory studies and conflict and peace studies. Furthermore, drawing from findings obtained during the fieldwork, the presentation will reflect on the possibilities that such community-based initiatives may offer the participants to understand cognitive and emotionally relationships between the present, the past and the future.
Since these memory school museums are devoted to the Colombian armed conflict commemoration, their character fits well with the conflict, violence and memory thematic stream. Also, they can be taken as a creative memory approach, being locational memoryscapes within schools. Simultaneously, due to their firm compromise with the non-repetition of war and peacebuilding, they can be taken as examples of memory activism for social justice.
Presenters Julian D Bermeo
Doctoral Research Assistant, University Of Deusto
When memories stumble: Social change in questions (Algeria, Tunisia)
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
                                                Algeria and Tunisia have experienced, for the first one, a bloody civil war (1990-2000) with 200.000 killed, and for the second one, two successive authoritarian regimes that have made hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, tortured or killed , and thousands of victims deprived of their basic rights. The end of the civil war and the fall of the totalitarian regimes produced two distinct reactions. While Algeria decreed the Grace and halting the desire for memory and forgiveness, Tunisia favored the publicization of the wrongs committed by the state by installing the Truth and Dignity Commission, whose function was the recognition of the wrongs suffered by the victims. One might think that the treatment of memory in the two cases are dissimilar, and that post-revolutionary Tunisia is more attentive and sensitive to the memories and experiences of ordinary people. However, as this paper will demonstrate, if Tunisia has made visible and audible certain elements of lawlessness during the authoritarian regimes, it has, like Algeria, "controlled" the memory so that the national memory is privileged. To show this proposition, the paper compares analytically the deployment of 'memory policies' through the frame of official memories. Then, the paper will address how alternative memories based on the struggles of victims' organizations may paralyse the will for truth, memory and social justice. The general framework that guides the debate on memory in each case relays on the central question of the status of post-conflict memories and their relevance to social change, and the capacity to transform social meaningfully people's lives.
Ratiba Hadj-Moussa
Full Professor, York University, Toronto
‘That was dangerous!’: Public perception of the East German Stasi and individual memory
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
Since German unification a strong national discourse has been painting the former socialist republic as a dictatorship. The state security police (MfS/Stasi) has been treated as the epitome of state violence with its wide-spread surveillance, psychological methods of intimidation and unjust arrests and incarceration. The period of the 1990s moreover was characterised by public revelations of prominent actors who had been involved with the MfS as 'inofficial employees' (IMs) delivering reports on colleagues, neighbours and in some cases family. All of this has contributed to a wide post-unification  discourse of the MfS as significant thread.
We know that individual memory responds to current contexts and needs; that is conveys personal truth rather than historical facts. Therefore, exploring heavily politicised pasts through memory narratives can be challenging. Research on social memory around atrocities has shown that individual narratives often only tend to become spoken once a public discourse exists which acknowledges those events, such as after the publication of movies, documentaries or novels. Such media both create a language for telling stories as well as are indicative of space in the public for similar testimonies. Reflections on the MfS collected during the research project 'Knowing the Secret Police' (2018-2022; AH/R005915/1) are however of a different register. We did not intend to collate testimonies of suffering. Rather, the interviews aimed to unveil much more mundane everyday engagements with and knowledge about the MfS. Nevertheless, we still need to expect that people's reflections on the MfS have in some way been affected by wider discourses and by the cultural representations those discourses gave rise to (e.g. The Lives of Others).
This presentation will draw on a small number of interviews to explore interviewee's reflections on what was and what was not possible in relation to the thread post by the MfS. The interviews are counterposed with other historical evidence, such as private letters, which at times paint a contrasting picture – showing that more was written down and communicated than was considered 'safe' or even 'possible' in retrospect.  The paper asks what this means for political agency in GDR times and for the relation between wider discourse and individual recollection today.
Presenters Anselma Gallinat
Reader In Social Anthropology , School Of Geography, Politics And Sociology, Newcastle University
PhD Candidate
New York University
Doctoral Research Assistant
University of Deusto
Full Professor
York University, Toronto
Reader in Social Anthropology
School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle university
Doctoral Researcher
Loughborough University
PhD student
Newcastle University
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