Conflict, Violence and Memory NUBS 4.23
Jul 06, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230706T0900 20230706T1030 Europe/London 5.21. Literary Works of Memory NUBS 4.23 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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Anuradha Roy’s All the Lives We Never Lived: A Study in Cultural Time and Palimpsestic Memory
Individual paperMovement, Migration and Refugees 09:00 AM - 10:30 AM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 08:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 09:30:00 UTC
This paper will explore and discuss the broader scheme of the contradictory concept of memory and history interspersed in the novel All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy. This paper attempts a comprehensive reading of this South Asian novel by taking cues from Max Silverman's theoretical idea of palimpsestic memory. I intend to examine the interconnectedness of memory, history, and temporality through this theoretical device. The narrative operates in the context of two spaces, India and Dutch-held Bali, and the implications this mobility of space and culture has upon the psyche of Gayatri and Myshkin, the mother-son duo in the novel All the Lives We Never Lived. This novel maps out a significant temporal journey along with spatial mobility from pre-independence India and Dutch-held Bali during the 1930s to post-independent India, where Myshkin is currently writing his memoir recapitulating his lost past during 1992. Thus there is an intricate underpinning of travelling memory owing to the narrative construction around mobility between two countries in this novel, which explicates how cultural and historical memory gets endowed with diverse implications over space and time. In definition, palimpsestic memory is the condensation of different spatiotemporal traces to describe these interconnections and define the poetics and politics of this composite form. With the clash of historical temporality and personal memory temporality, this text deals with the characters' identities and how memory, space, time, and history dictate the identities of the migrants and their families. The author incorporates this novel's varied allusions and intertextual instances as crucial reference points. This paper will attempt to explore and explain the superimposed images of memory narrative from personal and collective stances and delineate its palimpsestic nature. Finally, this paper endeavours to read this novel through the lens of transnational memories acting as an idea that deconstructs the compartmentalized notion of national memory in favour of going beyond it. Relying on the two-pronged device of transcultural and palimpsestic memory, this is an attempt to explore the point of convergence among mobility, memory, historical memory and temporality. The various instances at the contextual level of understanding and the temporal oscillation and displacement in the narrative form mediate and mitigate the characters' conflict and identity.
Keywords: palimpsestic memory; travelling memory; temporality; historical memory; identity; transcultural memory; metafiction
Co-author: Prof. Binod Mishra 


Presenters
SR
SANGJUKTA ROY
Research Scholar, IIT Roorkee
The Lost Art of the Language of Love: Roland Barthes’ Contribution to Contemporary Conflicts
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 work by the late Roland Barthes provides a certain countermeasure to one of the maladies affecting present-day communities in transition: the binarism of "either on the side of good or evil", embraced both by those who advocate the changes under way, and those who oppose them. Not only does this dualism intensify tensions that are often themselves binary; but it also implies ruthlessness that prevents these communities from achieving the desired reconciliation. 
Speaking from the liberal point of view, the question arises as to whether it would be possible to come up with a narrative strategy that would allow the so-called "liberals" to develop a peculiar empathy for the "wrongdoers", especially those whose memory still influences the public space; without relativizing either the crimes committed or the guilt of the perpetrators. To put it in other words: with far-right parties currently on the rise, fuelled by the heightened sensitivity to the cultural reterritorializations of the public space and the reassessments of its symbolic or public figures, is there any way to reconcile standing one's ground with benevolence?
The paper will suggest that when Barthes "fantasized the novel as an 'act of love' to do justice to those whom you've known and loved", he in fact adumbrated the strategy in question. The trick lies in the fact that the parallel desire to "make certain moments of our life into actual texts, which only our friends may read" does not apply only to those we love, but rather to those who are almost impossible to love. Let us remember that Barthes makes a special case for literature that represents the moral "sovereign good" only insofar as it is itself amoral, and disarms the very concept of guilt. Then the "writing fantasy" to produce a "literary object" turns "every historical person" into "a fictional character" who, "not having lived for real, can't be [evil] for real". In other words, Literature, as the only space to "postulate (…) a non-arrogant memory", allows the unforgivable to become at least fictively other to themselves. It offers the hope of being at least imagined as a good person, even if only in the form of an unlikely alternative history of what one could have become, but didn't. 
Let me emphasize once again that such an "alternative history" by no means pardons the oppressors or relativizes the crimes. Quite on the contrary, it prevents abstracting from the crimes, from their oversimplified personification and the subsequent classification as events "not from this - our - world". In fact, the Barthesian "act of love" doubles down on the wrongdoers, since it literally re-presents them, and faces them with a rather strict reproach: "you didn't have to be this way". On the other hand, the aforementioned "hope" prevents categorical condemnation as well, and opens up the possibility for defusing the tensions and softening the edges, since it mollifies condemnation with pity, however unilateral such responsiveness may be. Which is not much, but it is also not that little.
Presenters
OV
Ondřej Váša
Assistant Professor, Faculty Of Humanities, Charles University
Memory, Identity and Staging in Rohinton Mistry's 'A Fine Balance'
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 Indo-Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry is a renowned and historically-grounded contemporary writer whose works have been lauded for their insightful portrayal of life in the midst of India's often tumultuous political landscape. His 1996 novel, A Fine Balance, is an exceptionally firm and tender portrait of the lives of four individuals who meet by happenstance, but are eventually bound together by their shared experiences - their social, cultural, and religious differences notwithstanding. The novel borrows its setting from the infamous Emergency in India (1975-1977), a period of internal conflict and drastic change that heralded a rather disquieting reckoning for an entire nation. Among other things, A Fine Balance chronicles the journeys of Om, Ishvar, Maneck, and Dina as they deal with the quotidian questions of identity, survival, relationships, dreams and desires, even as the society around them crumbles and collapses. In his response to the critics' scavenging his works for autobiographical traces, Mistry once commented (as quoted in Peter Morey's Rohinton Mistry): 'All fiction is autobiographical - imagination ground through the mill of memory. It's impossible to separate the two ingredients' (4). 
            This paper concerns itself with this very 'mill of memory' that constitutes the core of A Fine Balance. My aim here is a three-fold one. First, by examining the phenomenon of 'staging of memories' - best described by Astrid Erll as the process that enables literary works to refer to cultural memory, represent cultural remembrance, and make it observable in the medium of fiction (77) - the paper will bring out the richness of memories in the text, hidden in the guise of objects, places, people, rituals, festivals, the narrating 'I', and so forth. Second, through examining the intersections of personal and collective memories, I will show how conflict and violence in the novel, and the characters' traumatic responses to the same, can help us reframe the narrative around behemoth historic events, by creating an alternate archive of personal recollections to complement the events' socially accepted remembrances. Third, I intend to underline the relationship between memory, identity, and nation by reflecting on the perpetually changing circumstances of the characters' lives, driven by a volatile political landscape – an ineluctable consequence of perpetual conflict and violence. 
            Amongst themselves, the three aims of my paper will help reposition Mistry's A Fine Balance as a novel that addresses the question of communities and change, as much as it acts as a critique of the malfeasances that defined India of the 1970s. 
            To realise the aforementioned aims, the paper draws on Memory in Culture (Erll 2011), Cultural Memory Studies: An International and Interdisciplinary Handbook (eds. Astrid Erll and Ansgar Nünning 2008), and The Life of Texts: An Introduction to Literary Studies (Kiene Brillenburg Wurth and Ann Rigney 2019). Further, the paper will reference the work of the behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman. Also useful in this regard would be the current cognitive psychology studies in trauma. 
Presenters
SA
Shivani Arulalan Pillai
Postgraduate Student, University Of Edinburgh
Remembering the War: Intergenerational Transmission of Memory in Uwe Timm’s "Die Entdeckung der Currywurst"
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 memorialisation of the Nazi past is still a central topic on the German literary scene and, in this context, Uwe Timm has been one of the most important voices since the 1970s: his work investigates and offers a chronicle of the 20th-century German past. The novella Die Entdeckung der Currywurst (1993), one of his most famous works, explores the wartime experiences of a German woman during the closing stages of the Second World War in Hamburg. This paper analyses how the past is remembered and reconstructed in the conversation between the protagonist, Lena, and the anonymous narrator of the novella, in order to provide greater insight into the literary shaping and transmission across generations of memories of the war. Lena and the narrator have different personal memories of the conflict: while Lena was born in 1902 and experienced the war firsthand, the narrator is part of the following generation and has only childhood memories of that period. What brings them together is the story of the origin of a popular German dish, the currywurst, which has in the novella the Proustian effect of evoking memories of the years between 1945 and 1947. The analysis of their conversation shows their different narrative approaches to remembering the past, which is telling of their generational belonging. On the one hand, Lena's storytelling, as is typical of oral memory, is spontaneous, unstructured and highly personal, thus unreliable. On the other hand, the narrator, who seems to be divided between emotional attachment to his childhood memories and the longing for historical truth, would like the narrative to be more concise, logical and historically accurate. Despite these differences, the remembering of the war years appears to be a shared practice between the two characters, which is reminiscent of the reconstruction of war memories within families, as studied by oral history (Welzer et al. 2002). In fact, after listening to Lena's account, the narrator revises and writes down her personal memories, and also adds historical information to integrate them into German official memory. The narrator's intervention aims to transform Lena's Lebenswelt into Monument (Assmann and Harth 1991), that is, to save her memories from forgetting and transmit them to future generations. It also positions the novella in a middle ground between fiction and documentation, where the accurate reconstruction of the past makes way for personal, thus incomplete and contingent, memories. This incompleteness can be seen as a sign of openness and encouragement to future generations to participate in the memorialisation of the past. This reading of the novella casts light on the evolving approach to the narrativisation of the Second World War past in postwar and post-unification Germany and on the memory dynamics within remembering communities.
Presenters Valeria Morelli
PhD Candidate , The University Of Melbourne
‘Beneath Our Soil Lie the Remains of Old Slaughter’: Meditations on Collective Amnesia and Culpability in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant
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 British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro suggested in 2005, when Never Let Me Go was published,  that he continued to be 'fascinated by memory', but that his next challenge would be to examine themes of national memory and forgetting on a larger scale. The publication of The Buried Giant in 2015 represents Ishiguro's attempt at a meditation on communal and national memory, memorialisation, and the complexities of forgetting. Utilising a feature seldom used in his novels, the third person narrative voice, Ishiguro's post-Arthurian tale reveals traces of buried slaughter and collective amnesia just beneath the surface. The novel, while problematic in its use of generic conventions, nonetheless makes a critical enquiry into the nature of human relations and the reliability of shared memories. 
This paper considers Ishiguro's cathartic memory work from his earlier novels, and traces its development as it culminates in The Buried Giant's broader perspectives on the complexities of shared memory and the question of culpability. The concluding section considers the effectiveness of Ishiguro's use of fiction and genre to investigate the complications of communal relations and collective forgetting.  
Presenters
YT
Yugin Teo
Senior Lecturer In Communications And English, Bournemouth University
Assistant Professor
,
Faculty of Humanities, Charles University
Postgraduate Student
,
University of Edinburgh
PhD Candidate
,
The University of Melbourne
Senior Lecturer in Communications and English
,
Bournemouth University
Research Scholar
,
IIT Roorkee
Associate Professor
,
University of Alicante
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