Contested Amnesia and Dissonant Narratives in the Global South: Post-conflict in Literature, Art, and Emergent Archives

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The Cold War period and its subsequent (post-)conflicts are characterized by a remarkable amnesia and a politics of invisibilization that reflect the epistemic order of decolonization of the Global South. Yet counter-semantics that challenge historical oblivion and injustice have been articulated by artists, writers and institutional initiatives that increasingly seek to contest this amnesia with alternate narratives or dissonant archives. Transitional situations, such as negotiated in Colombia or Lebanon, reconfigured an increasingly diverse landscape of memory cultures that claim truth and justice. While some transitional societies opted for an amnesty that fosters the invisibilization of the protracted conflict, others initiated a cultural and political process through a dialogue with the creative human rights. Nurturing official silence, amnesia, and the fragmentation of society, the related violence on human and non-human life forms has generated complex and conflicting memory cultures that are shaped both by local and global biases. Drawing upon a comparative cultural analytical and art historical perspective, this project examines the role of cultural production, in particular the arts, as aesthetic inquiries and dissonant narratives in processes of reconciliation and the search for truth and justice that exists within cultures, foregrounding alternate and plural writings of history. The project thus understands contemporary global arts against this background as performative practices of human rights and ethical praxis.

Prof. Dr. Liliana Gómez has been the director of the SNSF-project "Contested Amnesia and Dissonant Narratives in the Global South: Post-conflict in Literature, Art, and Emergent Archives" since 2017 (at the University of Zurich 2017-2021, since August 2021 at the University of Kassel).  The project is financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Two sub-projects are currently being completed, "Beyond the Courtroom" (Liliana Gómez) and "Queering Islamic Art" (Charlotte Bank).