CFP: Curating Difficult Knowledge

Forwarded by the NaMu listserv:

“Curating Difficult Knowledge”

April 16-18, 2009
Concordia University, Montréal

How are public spaces used to shape memories of systematic mass violence? What unique challenges arise in attempts to deploy narratives and documents of collective suffering for public display? And what innovations in exhibition, museology, and the activation of memorial sites might these challenges inspire? Employing as a point of departure a notion of “difficult knowledge” as that which challenges or disrupts anticipated experience (and thus potentially induces transformations in understanding or subjectivity), and considering “curation” in its deeper meaning of “taking care of,” this conference will provide a venue in which to grapple with these questions as they arise in theory and practice.

The Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the aftermath of Violence (CEREV - ) at Concordia University is pleased to announce our first international conference, co-sponsored by the Canada Research Chairs in Post-Conflict Studies and Latin American History. Keynote speakers will include Prof. Roger Simon, Faculty Director of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Media and Culture in Education and Director of the Testimony and Historical Memory Project at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

The specific aims of the conference are:

- To engage an emerging body of interdisciplinary scholarship and practice around representing and conveying experiences and meanings of historical suffering and injustice

- To envision and critique innovative attempts at public knowledge production and transmission about post-conflict experience

- To reflect on the creation of public spaces for the discussion of past violence as part of community and nation-state recognition of the past for future generations

We especially encourage participation by scholars, curators, artists, activists and other practitioners who are engaging with these questions in the context of museums, memorials, and “sites of conscience.” Our goal is to bring together individuals who are engaged in experimental curatorial work in the aftermath of violence with researchers undertaking fine-grained reporting on and analysis of such work.

Instructions for submission:

We invite 250 word abstracts for 15- or 30-minute presentations that will explore the conference themes outlined above. Since a central goal is to foster conversation among participants, we encourage you to request the shortest time-slot in which you can communicate your key points in your chosen medium (i.e. a spoken conference paper should fit in 15 minutes). We welcome the use of photographs, sound/video clips and other digital media in presentations, and for this reason are offering the option of a 30-minute time slot. Please send abstracts, along with a current CV and a 100-word description of your current area of research/practice to:

Deadline for abstract submission: August 31st, 2008.

Notification: by September 30th, 2008

Pending funding, we hope to be able to offer some travel subsidies to participants coming from beyond North America. Please indicate in your submission if such funding would be essential for your participation.


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