8. Mai 2011

CfP: ISA panel on Memorials in Transitional Justice

CfP ISA Annual Convention 2012: "Power, Principles and Participation in the Global Information Age"

San Diego, California, USA, 1-4 April 2012 

Panel: The Remains of the Past. Memorials in Transitional Justice Processes.

Panel Chairs: Prof Susanne Buckley-Zistel / Christian Braun / Julia Viebach (Marburg)

Transitional Justice (TJ) refers to processes of dealing with the aftermath of violent conflicts and human rights abuses in order to provide for a peaceful future. TJ makes use of a number of different instruments and mechanisms, including national and international tribunals, truth commissions, memory work, reparations and institutional reforms, which aim at uncovering the truth about past crimes, putting past wrongs right, holding perpetrators accountable, vindicating the dignity of victims-survivors and contributing to reconciliation. TJ is at one and the same time oriented to the past, in addressing the wrongs that have been committed; to the present, in establishing a new ethical and institutional framework; and through this, to prevent the future occurrence of such similar injustices. The concept has come to occupy a central place in the politics of managing transition as well as in academic research. Despite its deep concern with different forms of dealing with the past, TJ literature has so far paid little attention to how memorials are used and how they function within a post-conflict setting. This is juxtaposed by an increasing deployment of memorials as preferred means not to commemorating the glories of war and national heroism but to making visible massive human rights abuses and the sufferings of its victims. Against the backdrop of the increasing focus on symbolic reparations through memorials and commemorations in TJ processes the panel asks what role they might play in dealing with the past. This spans from their form to their function. 

So how - and what - does the form of memorials communicate to the constituencies affected? What role does space play in terms of memory practices? How did memorials emerge historically? How are sites of memory produced and contested both politically and culturally? These more general questions have become the object of intense research within Memory Studies, a relatively new field that emerged over the last two decades and that draws conceptually and methodologically upon diverse academic disciplines, such as politics, sociology, history, cultural studies, literature, but also neuroscience and psychology. Since its beginnings, the field has emphasized the need to understand memory as a product of social negotiations which is historically contingent and heterogeneous. However, despite the Memory Studies' strong interest in traumatic memory and in memories of mass violence, there has been little engagement with writings from TJ and with the question of how to make memorials work for bringing forth peace and reconciliation.

Our panel seeks to bridge this trenchant gap by bringing together contributions from various disciplines, such as peace and conflict studies, performance studies, political science, and literature.


The following questions shall be central:

How do memorials partake in commemorating systematic human rights abuses and mass violence and inform their perception in post-conflict societies?

What role do they play within a transitional justice framework? How do these monuments connect to a broader preoccupation with trauma and victimhood?

What are their historical roots and ethical, aesthetic, and political implications?

Which intentions are embedded in their making?

How are memorials made and re-made through social interaction? How are meanings contested through ritualized as well as daily interaction?

What is the architectural language of these monuments?


Please send your abstract of 300 words to Christian Braun

Deadline for submission of abstract 20th May 2011!!