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Practices of counter-curation highlight individuals' desire to actively restructure interpretations of the past and thus open up spaces for the negotiation of cultural norms. Examining them enables a deeper understanding of processes of historical meaning-making so far not thoroughly addressed.
This panel focuses on forms, functions, and connections between varied practices of performing the past which challenge established and institutionalized modes of remembrance. Such practices of counter-curation highlight individuals' desire to actively restructure interpretations of the past and thus open up spaces for the negotiation of cultural norms. Reenactments of past battles (e.g. of the American Civil War or the Napoleonic Wars) are a good case in point as "playing war" confronts widely accepted democratic norms regarding peaceful behavior. While counter-curators may share commonalities, they often disagree in terms of what constitutes appropriate activities and the goals they hope to achieve. Their practices are part of a wider trend of practical commemoration, also seen in the selection and recreation of objects to represent an imagined past, the private curation of exhibitions against the grain of museological strictures, or the production of recordings and other media that stress facets of the past sidelined by larger discourses. The performative recourse to an imagined past may invoke nostalgia and a conservative longing for "the good old days," producing what Zygmunt Bauman has called "retrotopias". Alternatively, the cultural act of counter-curation can be interpreted as the expression of a current need to alleviate perceived deficiencies of the contemporary political, social, or physical environment. We invite contributors to examine this tension using various approaches to enable a deeper understanding of processes of historical meaning-making that have so far not been thoroughly addressed in applicable academic discourses.
Watch the panel introduction: https://tinyurl.com/SIEFintroduction