Continue reading the Preface... | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online

Continue reading the Preface...

The AHM Annual Conference 2022 has a special focus on the ways in which our societies today are characterised by ‘epistemic instability’, where previously shared truths are increasingly scrutinised and contested (Harambam, Gramsci). In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, our responsibilities for one another’s safety and security became a particularly contentious area for public debate. Global lockdowns attempted to protect societies at large but at the same time produced an unprecedented sense of disconnection. Screen-based media became central to our experiences of other coeval crises from mass-migrations to national and armed conflicts, human rights violations, racial oppression, and sexual violence. Although the concept of ‘witnessing’ has been widely theorised regarding memories and heritages of conflicts and events of mass-suffering (e.g., Agamben, Hartmann), it remains a significant concept, which can help readdress present-day socio-cultural discourses. 

This conference sets out to explore the crisis of witnessing as well as the individual and collective positions and responsibilities of the witness in times of crisis: How can various aspects of witnessing across disciplines and contexts enrich our understanding of our realities? And how do current changes to mediums of witnessing (both physical and digital) impact the way we receive, experience and share information? This interdisciplinary conference invites proposals for papers and panels which explore the potential roles and responsibilities of witnesses and the uses of different mediums of witnessing such as life-writing, memoirs, photographs, epistolary exchanges, newspapers, testimonies, legal hearings, art, video, or social media, which reflect upon memory and heritage in today’s societies.

The AHM Annual Conference Proceedings is doubtlessly a mere excerpt of the richness and diversity of the advancements in the field of Heritage, Memory Studies and Material Culture and depict the AHM’s ongoing research which seeks to integrate all branches of research focusing on the material and intangible remains of the past, the reciprocal relations between objects and meanings, and the dynamics of memory, from diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives, concept-oriented, object-oriented and user-oriented approaches. The integrative, interdisciplinary and critical approach of problematising, conceptualising and analysing heritage and memory acts, and material culture practices, policies and politics on all levels in Europe and beyond is unique to AHM.

Read more about the organizing institution: The Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM)

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