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Accepted Paper:

Constellations of Memory: a multidirectional approach to (Post)colonial migration and remembrance  

Author:

Elsa Peralta (Center for Comparative Studies - Faculty of Arts, University of Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the memory constellations created by the free or forced migrations that have accompanied European colonial empires' expansion, demise and aftermath. It considers seemingly disparate migrant groups in an effort to assess the connectedness of post(colonial) memories.

Paper long abstract:

Colonialism and decolonization had important consequences with respect to migration, which extend to today's migrations from the previous colonial world. This is not only a national and empire specific phenomenon, but one with supra-local dynamics and global effects, which include forms of transnational connection, changing conceptualizations of community, and discrete memory cultures that outlast the formal end of empires (De l'Etoile 2008). In line with Rothberg's concept of Multidirectional Memory (2009) this paper is interested in the intersections of memory, migration and postcolonialism and questions what new constellations of remembrance are produced through the uneven encounter between different migrant populations that have moved in the course of European colonial empires' expansion, demise and aftermath. These migrant groups occupy a shared space, marked by an experience of unsettling created by colonial relations. Also, their respective collective memories are conscripted by a postcolonial "aphasia" (Stoler 2011) related to the enduring and troubling legacies of the imperial past. Yet, although connected, this is a divided space characterized by power asymmetries and racial violence. Going beyond the container thinking that is present in the methodological nationalism implicit in Memory Studies, this paper intents to provide a "displaced angle" on the canons of cultural memory as a way of bulwarking (ethnocentric and racialized) national traditions in the face of postcolonial diversity, while at the same time acknowledging that the national as a framework for identity and memory-making is still a powerful one.

Panel P180
Shared marginal experiences? Comparing postcolonial memories from the European margins