Curating the past, weaving the future: decolonial feminist approaches to time and memory

Authors: Lara Lookabaugh*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Topics: Cultural Geography, Gender
Keywords: decolonial feminism, curation, Guatemala
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


We live in curated space and time. When people install or remove statues, when they tell family histories to children, when they make and share art or craftworks, they are building a new world for the future. In this paper, I trace this idea across national and disciplinary boundaries to follow the stories of women who perform this work. I attend to curation, or the selection, organization, and presentation of knowledge and memory, as fundamentally political work that happens in both institutional spaces and in everyday life. Indigenous, decolonial, and feminist scholars have long highlighted the power wielded through knowledge about and representations of the world (Tuhiwai Smith 2012; Byrd 2011). I engage with discussions of desire (Tuck 2009), refusal (Simpson 2014), decolonial and Indigenous feminist theory (Lugones 2010; Zaragocin 2021; Hall 2008), and a feminist geographical emphasis on the everyday and intimate to develop the concept of “everyday curation.” I draw on both my arts-based collaboration with a Mam Mayan women’s collective in Guatemala and my experience with community and student-led exhibit curation and digital storytelling at University of North Carolina’s Wilson Library, to explore the ways that women assemble and interpret histories, experiences, memories, representations, and knowledges in ways that are politically expedient to create the types of futures they desire. I argue that people are constantly making decisions about representation and memory in their families, communities, and workplaces and that these everyday decisions about the representation and organization of space and time are future-building political acts.

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