Accepted paper:

cartographical spaces of memory - between arts and lived experience


Kathleen Coessens (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Paper short abstract:

Humans link experience and space, memory and maps, identity and place. Cartographical expressions, both in life and art, create lines of remembrance and become part of identity and the own narrative of life. At the same time cartographies of power also erase remembrance and rewrite history.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the role of cartographic practices: both as cartographies of remembrance and as cartographies of rupture. Human identities are defined by space and movement, place and trajectory, origin and diaspora. Cartographic practices are aesthetic responses to this condition. Deleuze and Maalouf interestingly pointed to the importance of origin and trajectory. Calvino, Borges and Greenaway use cartography in their narratives and movies as the ultimate artful practice for describing human experience. They point to the human need to 'cartographise' their world and life. Indeed, names of cities and roads, trajectories and origins create lines of remembrance. Identity is linked with personal/cultural cartographies, which are revived or narrated in maps. From Palestinian refugee camps, where streets are named after the lost places of origin, over drawings of death marches of the Nazi prisoners, to stories of immigrants of multiple mega cities, cartographical practices restore a sense of belonging and becoming. As such, the map is everywhere. But the map can also purposively erase life histories and rewrite histories, forget whole spaces and communities, or spread lies. No map means no existence nor recognition. By renaming places, moving (virtual) boundaries, ignoring slums or nomadic communities, mapping practices can lead to cartographic rupture, and become powerful tools of discrimination and submission. Drawing upon artistic and cultural examples of maps and other cartographic practices, I will consider their impact upon culture and experience: as aesthetic output of memory, as narratives of remembrance, as tools of power and re-inscription, and as means of imagination and re/de-construction.

panel P13
Arts of memory: skilful practices of living history