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Memory in Unexpected Places 1

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Urban Geography Specialty Group, Cultural Geography Specialty Group
Organizers: Max Counter, Caitlin Ryan
Chairs: Caitlin Ryan


This panel seeks to explore the production of history and memory in unexpected places and/or through unexpected processes. Geographers interested in history and memory have largely focused their efforts on what Till (2006) refers to as a biography of a site: explorations of how official or public history congeals in and through official sites of commemoration, such as monuments, museums, memorials, street naming and heritage sites. Yet, history and memory-making do not always center on official monuments, as placed-based modes of “vernacular memory making” (Muzaini 2013) work to proffer subaltern narratives that challenge the official monopoly on memory work. Furthermore, history and memory are worked out in “mundane” non-official settings (Cook and van Riesmdijk 2014; Drodzewski, De Nardi and Waterton 2016), in vernacular landscapes and settings where history is not intentionally authored by elites. Stories about the past emerge from both elite and quotidian sources, driven from the top-down as well as the bottom-up (Harrowell 2014). While the study of collective memory and public space is a significant focus in geography, this may come at the expense of understanding how individual memories work both alongside and against the collective (Legg 2007; Jones and Garde-Hansen 2012; Cook and van Riesmdijk 2014).

Recognizing that history and memory are emplaced, tethered to specific (but ever-changing) sites, and cohering in places beyond those that are officially sanctioned, we are looking for scholars who are thinking through the generation of history and memory in mundane or otherwise unexpected places. Papers might consider how history and memory are mobilized and re-made in “ordinary” and “unexpected” sites, beyond official sites of commemoration, in the mundane and unspectacular, and/or through processes (such as court arbitration, humanitarian intervention and development work) in which memory work is not the central object of concern. We are both scholars of the politics of post-conflict memory, yet highly encourage scholars working in a range of contexts. While urban geographers have a particular affinity for history and memory studies (Crang and Travlou 2001; Legg 2007), we welcome papers that explore the relationship between history/memory and place in both urban and non-urban contexts (see Baird and Le Billon 2012 for a study of political memory and agricultural land reform).

Cook, M. and van Riemsdijk, M. (2014). Agents of memorialization: Gunter Demnig’s Stolpersteine and the individual (re-)creation of a Holocaust landscape in Berlin. Journal of Historical Geography 43, 138-147

Crang, Mike, and Penny S Travlou. 2001. “The City and Topologies of Memory.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 19 (2): 161–77.

Drozdzewski, D., De Nardi, S., and Waterton, E. (2016). Geographies of memory, place and identity: Intersections in remembering war and conflict. Geography Compass 10 (11), 447–456.

Jones, Owain, and Joanne Garde-Hansen. 2012. Geography and Memory: Explorations in Identity, Place and Becoming. Springer.

Legg, S. Reviewing geographies of memory/forgetting. Environment and Planning A, 39,456- 466

Harrowell, Elly. 2014. “From Monuments to Mahallas: Contrasting Memories in the Urban Landscape of Osh, Kyrgyzstan.” Social & Cultural Geography, October, 1–23.

Muzani, H. (2013). Scale politics, vernacular memory and the preservation of the Green Ridge battlefield in Kampar, Malaysia. Social & Cultural Geography 14 (4), 389-409.

Till, Karen E. 2006. “Memory Studies.” History Workshop Journal 62 (1): 325–41.

Till, Karen E. 2012. “Wounded Cities: Memory-Work and a Place-Based Ethics of Care.” Political Geography 31 (1): 3–14.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Melina Patterson*, University of Mary Washington, "Once there was...:" Public space, memory work, and the stories 10 year olds tell 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Taylor Garner*, Elon University, Mobilizing Memories: Women’s Affective and Embodied Memory Work in Post-Conflict Societies 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Jessica Canfield*, Kansas State University, Sidewalks, Sandstone & Sense of Place 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Caitlin Ryan*, University of Colorado At Boulder, Post-conflict aid and memory work in the Fergana Valley 15 12:00 AM
Discussant Timur Hammond Syracuse University 15 12:00 AM

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