Call for Papers

As questions of racism are prominent in public debate, the colonial and slavery pasts represent more than ever key sites of both social encounter and contestation. The fields of heritage and memory studies, however, have been slow to respond to these urgent issues. This conference engages with these debates through the lens of materiality, broadly understood. Our understanding of materiality encompasses, on the one hand, the enduring, ruinous effects of colonialism around the globe, its often unarticulated material traces in former metropoles and colonies, as well as the mostly unacknowledged role of migration and displacement. On the other hand, we wish to address the range of interventions, from protest movements to artistic initiatives and museum spaces, which act upon the manifold legacies of past injustices in the present.

Reflecting on the materiality of bodies, objects, sites, ruins, traces and interventions, this international conference

examines the awkward, aphasiac and contested memories of colonial and slavery pasts by bringing together scholars from heritage and memory studies, postcolonial and performative studies, critical race studies, archaeology and material culture, art history, archival studies and digital humanities, conflict and identity studies and other areas. We invite scholars to present papers which critically analyse these issues, and especially consider the role of materiality in their case studies.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • decolonizing heritage and memory studies; contemporary nation-states and transnationalism
  • postcolonial ruination: migration and displacement, prisons, poison, borders
  • museums as sites of contestation and issues of repatriation
  • materialities of cultural racism and strategies of resistance
  • memory interventions and narratives in public spaces
  • postcolonial landscapes and cityscapes
  • colonial object biographies and postcolonial agency

Abstracts for papers or panels (250 words max) including a short biographical statement (150 words max) should be sent to before 1 June 2017.


Materialities of Postcolonial Memory

This conference is the annual international conference of the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM) of the University of Amsterdam. This year, the focus is on key public debates around colonial legacies, the slavery past, migration and the materiality of postcolonial heritage.

The Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture

AHM fosters a dynamic, interdisciplinary and transnational research of heritage and memory, organizes PhD training, seminars, reading groups, workshops, public debates, and international conferences, and stimulates scholarly cooperation in an international setting.

The school brings together researchers working in diverse areas and fields heritage and memory studies, cultural studies, museum studies, archaeology and material culture, art history, media, conservation and restoration, archival studies, digital humanities, postcolonial and performative studies, religious studies, music and theatre studies, conflict and identity studies, Slavonic languages and cultures, Holocaust and genocide studies, European memory studies, Middle Eastern studies, and cultural, public and oral history.

For more information about AHM please visit the website.