Accepted Paper:

Memory work as the future of ontological anchorage  
Melinda Hinkson (Deakin University)

Paper short abstract:

Displacement involves multiple ruptures, especially fragmentation of familiar time-space conjunctions. This paper explores memory work in one woman's navigation of displacement. Relatedly it considers deployment of nostalgic figures of Aboriginal culture in future-focused governmental imaginaries.

Paper long abstract:

Displacement involves multiple ruptures. Most profoundly it entails the fragmentation of familiar conjunctions of time and space, the upending of ordered temporalities and arrangements in which a person knows oneself in relation to others, particular places, and the world at large. In this paper I explore the role of memory work and nostalgic longing in one woman's transcendence of the traumatic experience of displacement. Taking up Svetlana Boym's distinction between registers of reflective and restorative nostalgia, memory comes to be understood as a vital repository for flexible, creative responses to the existential challenges of the day-to-day. But Boym goes further, showing nostalgia to have significance beyond individual longings for place and times since past. Nostalgia, she writes is 'a symptom of our age, an historical emotion'. It is a product of a new ordering of time and space that made the division into 'local' and 'universal' possible. At one extreme, 'unreflected nostalgia breeds monsters'. Thus the second move in this paper is to consider the deployment of nostalgic figures of Aboriginal culture in future-focused governmental imaginaries. The places where Warlpiri and state practices meet thus involve competing constellations of memory work and ultimately a vigorous contest over the ordering of time and space.

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