Oceanic Memory: Islands, Ecologies, Peoples – Call For Papers

Oceanic Memory: Islands, Ecologies, Peoples
Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand
30 November – 2 December, 2017

Hosted by the University of Canterbury College of Arts and the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies in conjunction with Memory Research in Aotearoa Network

Keynote Speakers: Ross Gibson (University of Canberra), Elizabeth Deloughrey (University of California, Los Angeles), Sudesh Mishra (University of the South Pacific), Steven Ratuva (Macmillan Brown Centre, University of Canterbury), Sacha McMeeking (Aotahi Maori and Indigenous Studies, University of Canterbury)

The conference also includes a Postgraduate Workshop DAY, 29 November, as well as performances, readings and screenings (tba)

Memories are complex, selective and evolve over time. Some memories are hegemonic and powerful and some are subordinate and marginalized. The dominant stories of the Pacific are usually told by foreign historians, anthropologists, development economists, political scientists, journalists and travel writers, who often define Pacific societies using very narrow disciplinary and cultural prisms that cast the Pacific in deficit terms. These narratives are often at odds with how Pacific peoples see themselves, live their lives and frame their collective and individual meanings.

This conference seeks to address the complex politics of cultural memory in the Pacific, attending to the range of contexts that shape memory and its articulation.  On the one hand, the threat of climate change is the most recent escalation of a long process of environmental destruction and economic exploitation that includes the effects of colonisation, war, nuclear testing and global tourism.  On the other hand, Pacific societies and cultures display strength, resilience and agency in facing the challenges of the new millennium and developing new visions of the future.  Memory plays a vital role in these processes of survival and transformation.

Questions of memory have been taken up by a wide range of disciplines, including literary, film and media studies, art history and theory, cultural studies, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, history, law and psychology, and are always inflected by the historical, political and intellectual contexts in which they are posed. This conference asks how can a focus on memory be brought into dialogue with the wider issues facing the region? How might our history and cultural location in the Pacific inform how memory is articulated in both research and in public discourse? How might memory in the Pacific, including the politics, the poetics or aesthetics, the practices, and the technologies of memory, contribute to understandings and interventions that address cultural, social, geopolitical, ecological, and other concerns for the region?

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Indigenous cultures of memory
  • Colonial and postcolonial formations of memory
  • Memory, place, landscape, environment
  • Pacific diasporas and globalisation
  • Te Ao Maori and the Pacific
  • Modernity, memory and the Pacific
  • Migration, navigation, exploration, exile
  • Natural history, climate change, and ecological disaster
  • Testimony and catastrophe
  • Species memory, extinction and extermination
  • Remembering nuclear testing
  • War in the Pacific
  • Military bases, Prisons, and Refugee Camps
  • Pacific Time: Alternative Temporalities
  • Cultural amnesia and other forms of memory loss
  • The Arts of memory: literature, film, music, digital media and the visual arts
  • Curating memory: Museum, archive, gallery

Organising Committee: Chris Prentice (University of Otago), Allen Meek (Massey University), Alan Wright (University of Canterbury), Steven Ratuva (University of Canterbury), Paul Millar (University of Canterbury).


Please send a 300 word abstract with short bio to alan.wright@canterbury.ac.nz by 1 June, 2017.