Displaced Memories & Memories of Displacement

The international workshop Displaced Memories & Memories of Displacement: Vanquished Others, Silenced Past, and the Burden of Implication in the 21st Century will take place on 9th-11th June 2021 in Prague.

This workshop seeks to provide a comparative, collaborative, and interdisciplinary platform to discuss many cases of how the supressed heritage of the displaced populations in Europe and beyond is being negotiated in the present day. Given the nature of the historical imagination, the dissolution of social spaces can potentially lead to the belief that the history of those who ‘lost’ cannot be afforded memorial sites as they are no longer represented by a symbolic or geographic region. Countries that re-hosted the expellees believed that the expellees’ former sense of belonging would not be an issue in the present. However, the expellees often considered themselves expatriates and transformed their former local and regional places of settlement into homelands, cultivating a ‘retrotopical’ attitude (Bauman, 2017). 

At the same time, the newcomers who repopulated the left behind spaces, that were previously inhabited by the vanquished other, also found themselves in difficult position. While some of them took an active role in the expulsion as perpetrators, many of them could be seen as ‘implicated subject’ (Rothberg, 2019). How do the newcomers understand and negotiate their role and positionality in the context of forced displacement? 

The memories of displacement as well as displaced memories concern people in between several places, across different temporalities, and with multiple belonging. As such, they are notoriously difficult to grasp and therefore severely understudied. To amend this void in our knowledge and to question our taken for granted assumptions in this workshop we advocate multidirectional approach to memories of the displaced populations to answer these questions: 

  • How are social spaces redefined by their new inhabitants?
  • What happens with the heritage of the vanquished Other?
  • How has the heritage of displacement itself been ignored, forgotten, memorialized, transplanted duplicated, and recreated and commemorated, despite the dispersion of people and the lack of material artefacts?
  • Which sites of memory and what memorialization practices for these pasts are no longer associated with their former ‘milieux de memoire’ (Halbwachs 1941; Lavabre 2007)?

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