CFP: Materialities of Postcolonial Memory

AHM Conference 2017

Materialities of Postcolonial Memory

Call for Papers

7 -9 December 2017

University of Amsterdam

As questions of racism are prominent in public debate, the colonial and slavery pasts represent more than ever key sites of both social encounter and contestation. The fields of heritage and memory studies, however, have been slow to respond to these urgent issues. This conference engages with these debates through the lens of materiality, broadly understood. Our understanding of materiality encompasses, on the one hand, the enduring, ruinous effects of colonial- ism around the globe, its often unarticulated material traces in former metropoles and colonies, as well as the mostly unacknowledged role of migration and displacement. On the other hand, we wish to address the range of interventions, from protest movements to artistic initiatives and museum spaces, which act upon the manifold legacies of past injus- tices in the present.

Reflecting on the materiality of bodies, objects, sites, ruins, traces and interventions, this international conference examines the awkward, aphasiac and contested memories of colonial and slavery pasts by bringing together scholars from heritage and memory studies, postcolonial and performative studies, critical race studies, archaeology and mater- ial culture, art history, archival studies and digital humanities, conflict and identity studies and other areas. We invite scholars to present papers which critically analyse these issues, and especially consider the role of materiality in their case studies.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • decolonizing heritage and memory studies; contemporary nation-states and transnationalism
  • postcolonial ruination: migration and displacement, prisons, poison, borders
  • museums as sites of contestation and issues of repatriation
  • materialities of cultural racism and strategies of resistance
  • memory interventions and narratives in public spaces
  • postcolonial landscapes and cityscapes
  • colonial object biographies and postcolonial agency


Abstracts (250 words max) including a short biographical statement (150 words max) should be sent to before 1 June 2017. The conference fee is €40 for employed academics and €15 for students. Speakers are expected to arrange accommodation and transport on their own; we will offer suggestions for hotels and other practical information.

Organization: Dr. Paul Bijl, Dr. David Duindam, Dr. Ihab Saloul, Dr. Chiara de Cesari Conference Assistants: Sanne Letschert, Maria Dijkgraaf, Inez van der Scheer