Memory and Recovery: Anthropological Association of
Ireland Conference Feb 2014.
Annual Conference to be held in Sligo Institute of Technology, 14th
and 15th of Feb, 2014. (Details to Follow)
Please send abstracts of 300 words max to firstname.lastname@example.org by
Dec 16th, 2013.
Paul Connerton, among others, has analysed the ways in which societies strive to remember
and forget. This body of work draws attention to the techniques by which remembering and
forgetting are accomplished and distinguishes between different forms and functions of
forgetting. Focusing on the ‘recovery’ of social memories, this conference examines how
memory is dis- or re-interred through social processes, how recovered memories are
challenged or legitimised, and how processes of recovery relate to particular historical
The idea of ‘recovered memories’ reflects the ambiguity and creativity of memory processes,
suggesting a reclamation or expression of buried truths or lost experiences, yet also the
possibility of memory being obscured, repressed, re-covered. The term carries with it anxiety
about the reality of past experiences and the legitimacy of contemporary claims about them,
not least because of controversy surrounding the idea of ‘recovered memories’ in individual
psychology and therapeutic settings; such memories lie between shared grief and triumph.
‘Recovery’ is associated with healing, and the idea that memory can heal, or be healed, is a
familiar response to individual or collective trauma.
‘Recovery’ is currently the goal of many governments and international bodies. Within the
Republic of Ireland, attempts at economic recovery are accompanied by the reassessment
of collective beliefs about the nation’s past, the Celtic Tiger era and the crisis. Ireland is
undertaking it’s economic recovery in an era of commemorations and anniversaries, from the
Dublin Lockout to the Easter Rising. Equally in Northern Ireland the signing of the Ulster
Covenant and the Second World War loom large in contested centenary memories that feed
into broader European and global processes of remembering. Such events provide space
for the recovery of memory, sometimes at the expense of suppressing others, and often with
the potential for personal and collective healing, for contested political claims and ontological
challenges, which recovered memories can provide.
We invite contributions on themes related but not restricted to:
● How do public commemorations and anniversaries engineer the recovery of social
memory? To what extent is this process intentional, consensual, negotiated, or
● As archaeology unearths elements of the ancient past, how are its discoveries being
harnessed to present day concerns and future economic recovery?
● What would recovery from the recent crisis of capitalism look like? Does ‘recovery’
mean: a resumption of ‘business as usual’; a re-concealment of problems that have
been revealed; a regaining of lost wealth; the healing of a diseased system? How
can remembering be an ‘antidote’ to current economic ills?
● When ‘recovery’ is accepted as a collective national goal, what is it we believe we
● How does nostalgia shape the kind of memories which are recovered?
● How does ‘recovery’ – as it features in the language of addiction – relate to other,
more collective, forms of recovery?
● What events will not be remembered in this period of centenary celebration? What
memories are going to be covered over once again?
● What types of memory are involved in commemoration processes: heritage, national,
biographical, embodied, neurological modes of memory? What stages of memory are
involved, and what places of memory will become important in the coming decade
● What is the role of place in conjuring, stabilising and preserving memory? What
places will become important for remembering in the coming decade and why?
Where are these places that define particular relationships to the past and what tools
can we use to chart the moral geography of such ‘lieux de memoires’, e.g. the tomb
of the unknown soldier (a clear example of recovering what is ‘unrememberable’)?
What other sites are important in collective remembering, e.g. archives?
Please submit a 300 word abstract with your name, email address and affiliation to
email@example.com by Dec 16th.