The Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory NUBS 1.13
Jul 04, 2023 11:30 - 13:00(Europe/London)
20230704T1130 20230704T1300 Europe/London 1.1. Town and City: memories of coloniality and race NUBS 1.13 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
37 attendees saved this session
Texturing Absence: A geography of the disappeared Woodstock Beach
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC
Up until the late 1960s, the Cape Town suburb of Woodstock had a beach. Decades of land reclamation – begun as early as 1890 – culminated in the beach being entirely subsumed by railways, roads, and harbor infrastructure. Woodstock’s beachside heritage is largely unknown, as are the processes by which it disappeared. This piece engages the creative, critical, imaginative and speculative elements of memory to gain a deeper understanding of this place, process, and its relevance in Cape Town and South Africa today. Drawing together the various creative methodologies of memory studies, cultural geographies and ‘place writers’, this piece proposes and engages the method of ‘texture’. Texturing as a method draws on memory, metaphors, archives and material inscriptions to follow traces of Woodstock Beach. Attending to Woodstock Beach in this way reveals a series of small-scale and intimate stories about everyday people and things, which layer and juxtapose with stories of slavery, dispossession, resistance, colonialism, capitalism, and apartheid. Texturing Woodstock Beach connects stories of sand – its lingering presence in concrete dolosse, its obvious absence from ‘Beach Road’, its material memory of shell and quartz – with stories of racial regulation and resistance found wrapped around kelp, with memories of colonial victory and defeat that trace back to a tree, with mass graves and guiding ecological processes that emerge from an encounter with a fig. Attuning to Woodstock Beach through memory and material – texturing – produces stories that are creatively rendered while grounded in truth. Engaging memory and its spatial and temporal flexibility allows the fragments of this destroyed place – sand, fence, litter, Facebook comments – to be strung together in an emergent and compelling account of place. 

Molly Anderson
Masters Student, Univeristy Of Cape Town
The Ghosted City and the Spectres of Calcutta's Colonial Modernity
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC
The paper delves into the theme of communities and change through an engagement with the 'timeless' and ghostly inhabitants of the colonial past in Calcutta and their presence against the known vis-vis documented chronology of urban history. My presentation traces the spectres of Kolkata's yesteryears in the tales of haunted houses and British ghosts in the literary narratives of writers such as Nabarun Bhattacharya, who are long dead but have not left the city. Instead, these vigilant spirits survive as spectral residues of colonial modernity to watch over the millennial metropolis. With the intervention of these revenants who inhabit the interstices between the 'here' and 'now' and 'there' and 'then' in the erstwhile capital of the British empire, the past repeatedly haunts back with a surplus of meaning. 
This presentation, thus, explores these eruptions of spectral uncanny in the postcolonial urban milieu of Calcutta to chart the manifold ways in which ex-colonial societies negotiate with their 'difficult heritage' that exist as troubled 'remainders' of a different era and arrest time from moving forward. By working through the complex iterations of trauma and nostalgia, I read these accounts of ghostly inhabitations within the postcolonial nation-state as historical supplements to analyse Calcutta's dubious transition from colonial to postcolonial modernity. In this city haunted by the memories of various temporalities jostling for coevality, the ghosts invoke a powerful paradox. They align the neo-liberal present and its cultural bankruptcy with colonial coercion that unleash violent memories of consumption and exploitation, and simultaneously, vivifies the past to redress some of its dangerous legacies that are carried into the future. The paper argues how several of these anecdotes of spectral haunting are imbued with a deep subversive agency which allows new ways of engaging with the past to pry open radical and affective spaces of interruption and 'unmaking' in the urban imaginary. They reveal what is claimed as a piece of 'imperial narrative' in the colony is 'always already' unstable and could be duly dislodged by the postcolonial communities whose histories were invisibilised, spectralised or muzzled into silence. Here, the 'postcolonial' as Chambers and Huggan (2015, 786) explain, simultaneously embodies the dual sense of 'continuity' and a break from the previous regime and the paper captures how the spectral city, then, becomes a riven site of contestation where nefarious inheritances of the colonial past are concurrently challenged, quashed or obliterated from view and 'deliberately or inadvertently reinvented or rehearsed' and refashioned through haunting.
Anuparna Mukherjee
Assistant Professor, IISER Bhopal
The gesture and the stone - debates on a (post) colonial city
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC
Since 2015, with the birth of the Rhodes Must Fall movement and, particularly since 2020, due to the murder of George Floyd, the anti-racist movement has sought to rethink the space of our cities and the legacy of colonialism, slavery and racism in the latter. This paper aims to analize the relationship between space, heritage, memory, power and coloniality in the city of Lisbon through the possibilities and struggles for the inscription of counter-hegemonic, anti-colonial and anti-racist narratives in the public space.
Lisbon, the former capital of one of the longest colonial empires in history, continues to be the central stage where a "glorious" narrative about imperial history is performed. We recognize two layers in this contemporary and persistently colonial city: one made out of stone - that of the monuments, statues and museums that appear to form the unchangeable materiality of the urban body - and another one made of gestures - the ways through which the bodies that inhabit the city shape it through their political and cultural action. It's this dialectical process between the materiality of colonial heritage and the performatic aspects of antiracist protests and activities that my investigation has sought to explore. 
On the 11th of June 2020, the statue of Padre António Vieira - a missionary that took part in the process of colonization and evangelization of the people of Brazil - was painted with red ink and with the word "decolonize". This was the most paradigmatic confrontation between the stone and the gesture in the city of Lisbon, as the gesture adds a layer of meaning to the stone and challenges its immutability. Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Torre de Belém are also examples of this (contested) memoryscape that constitutes a white, eurocentric and male narrative that tells the ancient history of racism and white supremacy. 
Therefore, this work, made possible by the work done with activists and social movements, has sought to question the ways through which it is possible to dispute the hegemonic colonial narratives in public space: through graffiti, guided tours, new topographical indications and acts of mapping. As Gramsci has taught us, all hegemonies are necessarily incomplete and so is the hegemony of the colonial narrative in Lisbon's public space, constantly challenged by the decolonial gestures of the antiracist movements. For that reason, studying and debating the way colonial monuments, statues and museums can be - and are being - brought into the limelight of the political debate by the strength of the gestures is fundamentally important to the process of deconolizing the spaces that surround us.
Presenters Leonor Rosas
Researcher, Centro De Estudos Comparatistas - Universidade De Lisboa
‘How did we get to be so white here?’: Streetcar-suburbanization and collective memory in Minneapolis
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC
The streetcar suburb deepened the spatial expansion of the North American city, bringing 'white' residents to newly built single-family homes on the urban periphery. Moreover, it further subsumed pre-existing indigenous relations to land in exchange for a white-dominated capitalist mode of private ownership. In the context of Minneapolis, USA, this settler colonial urbanism, which fulfilled the preferred property regimes of Euro-American residents, was, until recently in the city's retelling, seen as a gradual and benevolent story of urbanization. It positioned countless Euro-American immigrants as social mobility climbers seeking stability in suburban single-family homes and any racist outbursts as shameful anomalies, values imported from the South briefly bubbling to the surface in a more progressive North. 
Yet, in recent years, this narrative of urbanization is increasingly being challenged, particularly with the study and mapping of racially restrictive covenants in housing deeds, which blanketed streetcar suburbs, and the murder of George Floyd and the uprisings that followed in 2020. Increasingly, residents and local activists are reworking a narrative of gradual expansion-the notion of a progressive griding, parcelling, and private homeownership of former agricultural land-into a reframed story that illuminates structural patterns of white supremacy and settler colonial urbanism, focusing on a period of ubiquitous exclusions that were fundamentally constitutive of the city's development and growth through the 20th century rather than mere aberrations. 
In this paper, I present initial findings from dissertation research, which explore the contemporary decolonial shifts underway within the city's collective memory. Between interviews with residents and local activists, examining recent city-led urban development plans, reviewing newspaper debates, and linking with recent scholarly work in Minneapolis, I argue that the formerly unremarkable streetcar suburb, particularly for white residents, is beginning to take on new meaning within the city's history, as emblematic of urban development built on a foundation of dispossession and racial exclusion. That is, this history has increasingly come to serve as both a material limitation and symbol for unequal property relations, ecological injustices, and the erasure of identities. As contemporary data have revealed the pervasiveness of this exclusionary suburban settlement pattern across major swaths of Minneapolis, these seemingly unmarked subdivisions are coming to represent the foundations for ongoing relations of white supremacy and settler colonial urbanism, pushing present-day residents and city officials to acknowledge troubling histories, reflect on systemic contradictions, and act on these every day exclusions in the present moment.
Daniel Rosenblum
PhD Candidate, Department Of Human Geography, Uppsala University
Colonization, which is a bad word these days...": Social memory of community settlement without racism
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC
This paper examines the role(s) of social memory in perpetuating and combatting racisms in three small-town, southern Ontario communities (populations 4000 to 8000). I investigated how community members remember and/or see racism occurring in the towns. Using a theoretical framework connecting collective remembering, social memory, and white possessive logic, combined with an antiracist discourse analysis methodology, I conducted semi-structured one-on-one interviews with community members. Participants were 18 or older and self-identified as community members of one of the three communities for at least five years previous. Participants recognized racisms in the towns, but recollections were of racist incidents targeting one of few people or families in town who were/are racialized in ways other than white. Memories participants shared did not acknowledge their communities as products of colonization and Whiteness. I argue that in communities perceived as "white bre(a)d"-a participant's descriptor-education projects are necessary to disrupt the dominance of Whiteness by helping people recall social memories through decolonizing and antiracist lenses. If social memory recognizes racisms only as incidents targeting people racialized differently than the majority, and it does not engage the continued colonialism that supports white dominance, Whiteness remains normative and exclusions of racialized peoples are made banal.
Presenters Mark Currie
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Carleton University
Masters Student
Univeristy of Cape Town
Assistant Professor
IISER Bhopal
Centro de Estudos Comparatistas - Universidade de Lisboa
PhD Candidate
Department of Human Geography, Uppsala University
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Carleton University
Assistant Professor, teaching stream
University of Toronto
Assistant profesor
Faculty of Sociology, University of Warsaw
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