The Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory NUBS 2.04
Jul 07, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230707T1100 20230707T1230 Europe/London 9.2. Shifting and contested memories of colonialism NUBS 2.04 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
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The conquest, colonization and independence in the Argentina's and Mexico's Bicentennials
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC
In recent decades in Latin America, the memory of the past conquest, colonization and independence has been at the center of public debate. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the ways in which the shared past between Spain and Latin America was represented in the official celebrations of the Argentina's (2010 and 2016) and Mexico's (2010 and 2021) Bicentennials. On such occasions, ideologically opposed presidents governed the countries. In 2010 in Argentina the president was Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was located on the left wing of the political spectrum, and in 2016 Mauricio Macri, who was located on the right wing. Conversely, in 2010 in Mexico the president was Felipe Calderón, located on the right of the political spectrum, and in 2021 Andrés Manuel López Obrador, located on the left. In all cases, the memory of the conquest, colonization and independence from Spain was used.
The main goal of the paper is to compare the place that was assigned to Spain in the representations of the past during the Bicentennials. The "Hispanic problem" was very relevant in the political uses of the past with projections in the present. Presidential speeches, the politics of monuments and museum scripts will be used as sources. In this way, a "populist" use of the past will be compared against a "liberal" use of the past. Kirchner and López Obrador made a polarizing use of the past that was in tune with a conception of politics and its practice based on the radicalization of the conflict. Calderón and Macri made a integrating use of the past that expressed a way of processing the political conflict through reconciliation and pacification.
Presenters Camila Perochena
Assistant Proffesor, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella
Shaping Memory in a Shifting Memoryscape: Sites of Commemoration in Present-Day Namibia
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC
The paper examines two key sites of commemoration in Namibia: the Independence Memorial Museum in Windhoek and the Waterberg War Memorial. The Independence Memorial Museum chronicles Namibia's struggle for sovereignty from colonial authorities, displaying a collective, national narrative of state emancipation. The story of liberation is reflected in the physical layout of the museum – a towering five-storey structure in with each floor recounts an aspect of the nation's colonial history by subdividing it into three stages of display: colonial repression, liberation and road to independence. The liberation message conveyed in the museum is heightened by the locality of the museum, a site carefully chosen for maximum impact. Constructed on a hill (and on a former concentration camp), the site had been previously dominated by the imperial Reiterdenkmal, a monument celebrating German victory over the Nama-Herero uprising in 1907. The museum initially relocated this colonial monument to a less prominent space on its grounds, filling its position with a statue Sam Nujoma, the anti-apartheid activist and first president of Namibia. It was eventually completely removed from the site in 2013, a move that anticipated the global process of disavowal of such colonial tributes, while asserting a Namibian interpretation of its own national past. The Waterberg Memorial occupies an entirely different commemorative landscape. It consists of a collection of graves of German and Indigenous soldiers who died in the brutal Battle of Waterberg in 1904. Initially celebrated as a site of German victory over indigenous insurrection – an annual ritual ostentatiously marked by white settlers throughout the twentieth century – the narrative of commemoration has now shifted to include a more inclusive message of the overall loss of human life, noting in particular the considerable military sacrifice made by Indigenous soldiers who perished in this battle as well.
Renata Schellenberg
Professor Of German, Mount Allison University
Oromo’s counter narrations about colonialism and decolonization in Ethiopia
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC
The presentation will show and discuss the counternarratives and memories on Ethiopian history of colonization, concerning Oromo's case, the biggest ethnic group in Ethiopia. In recent years Ethiopia has seen a growing interest in Oromo culture, history and art. This is related to the political changes taking place in the country and the growing significance of ethnic identity, within the various groups living in Ethiopia. The Oromo themselves claim that for more than the last 100 years they were a discriminated majority in Ethiopia. As a result of the expansion of Ethiopian Empire in the end of 19th century to the south and east, different groups of Oromos became submitted to the Ethiopian kings. According to the Oromo narration, they were colonized by Amhara-speaking highlanders. As a result it was the colonialism implemented by other Africans (not Europeans) but the scheme of colonial oppression was similar. On the other hand, Ethiopians are proud of not being a colonized country in the African continent. The presentation will show the main aspects of reshaping and empowering the national and ethnic identity among Oromos in context of decolonization. It will show the most important aspects of decolonial processes in Ethiopia in recent years. The paper is based on research conducted in Addis Ababa in September and October 2022.
Kinga Turkowska
PhD Student, University Of Warsaw
Our Shame, My Shame: Chinese Students’ Writing of Shame in Japan, 1900s-1930s
Individual paperThe Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory 00:00 Midnight - 00:00 Midnight (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC
"Never forget the century of national shame!" This short but powerful slogan spreads across Chinese social networks every September 18, awakening memories of the traumatic Japanese invasion of Northeast China nearly a century ago. However, shame has no longer been confined to the historiography from the First Opium War (1839–1842) to the War of Resistance (1937–1845), a century dominated by harsh international and national conflicts. The encompassing mechanism of state propaganda lends it a symbolic call that summons national cohesion. With multiple appropriations and reinterpretations, shame is stripped of its original context in public memory and transformed from an affective feeling into political language. 

Nevertheless, the routinisation and exploitation of national-shame memories for individual and corporate advantages render the forgetting of real events, the collective zeal in everyday life, and the disentanglement from personal memories. This paper provides a fresh perspective by returning to the beginning of the national-shame story: the lived experiences of late-Qing and early Republican students in Japan and their diverse articulations of shame amidst the clash of ideologies and political agenda. Rather than focusing on regime change or well-known political figures, it details the autobiographical writings of three Chinese students, Huang Zunsan (1880–1951), Yu Dafu (1896–1945) and Xie Bingying (1906–2000), to provide a nuanced analysis of the morphoses of shame and establish a mnemonic ensemble based on recognition of differences. 

Through close reading, this paper explores how shame as an affective conception made its way into the Chinese vocabulary through personal memories, how it was perceived and remembered at specific historical junctures by ordinary people, and the discrepancy between gendered individual memories and national discourse. It aims to reject essentialist assumptions and, borrowing Haiyan Lee's words, encompass "emergent values and meanings 'in solution' before they are 'precipitated' and given fixed forms" (2006, 298). Recognising the micro streams that constructed the revolutionary culture's subjectivising ethos is important for understanding why memories of shame have become an attractive myth in the Republican era, even in China today.
Zheng Li
Newcastle University
Constellations of Memory: (Post-)colonial migration and remembering in Lisbon's peripheral communities
Individual paperMemory and Diverse Belongings 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/07 10:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 11:30:00 UTC
From 1974 to 1975, the struggle of African liberation movements and a military coup in Lisbon caused the disintegration of the Portuguese Empire which spanned across five centuries and three continents. Since then, an honest reappraisal of the country's difficult colonial legacy has been thwarted by national fantasies of lusotropical exceptionalism, allowing racialised structural inequalities to grow in Portugal. Incidents such as the racist murder of black actor Bruno Candé, whose parents immigrated from Guinea-Bissau, by a veteran of the Portuguese colonial war in Angola in 2020 in the Lisbon neighbourhood of Moscavide are painful evidence that the country's colonial past remains unresolved.
Concerned with the intersections of memory, migration and post-colonialism, this paper presentation draws on preliminary findings of the funded research project 'Constellations of Memory: a multidirectional study of postcolonial migration and remembering' (CONSTELLATIONS). Beginning in January 2022, the project's research team examines over three years how different sub-groups of post-colonial populations – 1) former Portuguese colonial settlers ('retornados') and 2) African immigrants from former Portuguese colonies – occupy shared spaces in a working-class neighbourhood in peripheral Lisbon. The research is based on ethnographies of memory milieux including 50 in-depth interviews with individuals from several generations and whole families in the of south bank of Lisbon's suburban area, in the Vale da Amoreira neighbourhood, populated after 1975 by both retornados and immigrants from Portuguese ex-colonies. It looks at how the different (post-)colonial migration trajectories of these groups are negotiated in a shared socio-cultural environment and against the backdrop of official national narratives about empire as well as a deepening socio-economic crisis and resurgent right-wing populism. It suggests that collective memories of seemingly distinct post-colonial migrant groups are not separable from each other, but emerge dialogically, through the negotiations, cross-referencing and conflicts that take place on a shared, but uneven terrain. In this way, the research project contributes to an understanding of the shifting complexities of organic transcultural memory constellations and identities in post-colonial Europe.

Jonas Prinzleve
University Lissabon, Centre For Comparative Studies (CEC)
Assistant Proffesor
Universidad Torcuato Di Tella
Professor of German
Mount Allison University
PhD student
University of Warsaw
Newcastle University
University Lissabon, Centre for Comparative Studies (CEC)
 Guido Bartolini
FWO Postdoctoral Fellow
Ghent University
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