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

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 und 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 Universität Zürich 2017-2021, since August 2021 at the Universität Kassel).  The project is financed by the Schweizerischer Nationalfonds. Two sub-projects are currently being completed, “Beyond the Courtroom” (Liliana Gómez) and “Queering Islamic Art” (Charlotte Bank).

Peace and Conflict Culture Network

The Peace and Conflict Culture Network will address the complex and contested questions that face post conflict societies, of what should we remember, what should we forget, and, ultimately, why?

The network will seek to facilitate connections with academics and other relevant stakeholders and mobilise arts and social institutions engaged in peace, conflict and cultural discourse in the UK and abroad in selected regions. It will posit a central research question: what is the role of museums and memory sites that deal with memory and conflict, and how can they more effectively promote tolerance, resilience, inter-group and inter-ethnic cooperation? Firstly, it will investigate the role of art and artists in a museum/site of memory context in contributing to peacebuilding processes. Secondly, the network will facilitate discussions around the question of how youth can be engaged actively in peacebuilding through engagement with museums/sites of memory.

The network will especially foreground the contribution from academics and institutions from post conflict societies in particular from the Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and the Great Lakes region, Lebanon and the Middle East and Colombia and Latin America.

The Peace and Conflict Cultural Network is convened by PARC and funded by the AHRC. The organising team consists of Dr. Paul Lowe, PARC and London College of Communication; Dr. Nela Milic, PARC and London College of Communication; Professor Kenneth Morrison, De Montfort University, and Professor Liliana Gómez, University of Kassel.