Why Remember? Memory in Times of War and Its Aftermath Topic: Border Poetics and Politics: 1989 and the Fall of the Wall 2-Day Symposium

July 9th-July 10th, 2019

Hotel Europe, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina


Keynote Speaker: Mladen Miljanović, Artist,


Sponsored by

Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Salem State University Holocaust, Genocide & Interfaith Education Center, Manhattan College London College of Communication, University of the Arts London WARM Festival, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina



Dr. Paul Lowe, University of the Arts, London, UK Dr. Stephenie Young, Salem State University, USA Admir Jugo, Ph.D. Candidate, Durham University, UK Dr. Mehnaz Afridi, Manhattan College, USA

Dr. Manca Bajec, Independent Artist, UK

Velma Saric, Post-Conflict Research Center, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina


In his book, In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies, David Rieff questions whether the age-long “consensus that it is moral to remember, immoral to forget” still stands in our contemporary era. What should we remember, what should we forget, and why? Do we need to reconfigure the way that we think about memory and its potential impact on issues such as reconciliation and healing in the wake of war? Is memory impotent as a social, political, or aesthetic tool? Rieff’s questions appear more pertinent than ever as wars and conflicts continue to rage in many parts of the world with no end in sight.


These questions of memory (and forgetting) are intensely political and have far-reaching consequences. Yet, how do they reverberate in the context of post-war societies, post-conflict reconciliation, conflict prevention, questions of memory and past events? To what extent do we remember the past and how do we choose what to remember and why we remember? How could and should (consciously and unconsciously) memory processes shape the present and future? How might public institutions (such as museums and other heritage sites that support education/awareness) deal with the past? What is the difference between commemoration and memorialization? Where do they intersect and how might they impact the process of reconciliation and prevention? What are landscapes of memory?


"The Wall will be standing in 50 and even in 100 years"

-  GDR head of state Erich Honecker, East Berlin, January 19th, 1989


For summer 2019 we continue our conversation on aesthetics that we initiated in our 2017 conference in Sarajevo but with a specific focus on the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to mark this important 30-year anniversary. The Berlin wall as a physical, geographical, conceptual and theoretical space, has made and continues to make a significant impact on global politics as part of a greater discussion about what we refer to as “border poetics and politics.” Global society continues to grapple with significant border-related issues that so many are directly or indirectly affected by. For example, UNHCR currently report that as many


as 68.5 million people have been forced out of their homes, and for many border disputes are part of the displacement. From the U.S/Mexican “wall” debate, to the ever- shifting borders of Crimea and the Caucasus, to the still unsettled territories of the former Yugoslavia, the way that borders are represented through the lens of aesthetics and memory is now, more than ever, of interest. For this conference we are seeking papers that address how the memory of both pre-1989 and post-1989 has been constructed, reconstructed, and even annihilated over the past three decades. We are concerned with aesthetic representations and practices that analyze and engage in border politics, and that address the formation, status and challenges faced by communities interacting with or living at the border regions. Papers might consider the contemporary status of issues that not only directly address the politics and representation of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the former Soviet Union and its associated regimes, but of borders in a more general global perspective.


Our guiding questions include: What constitutes a border? How are literary and artistic border stories used both as a hegemonic discourse to support the status quo and as a counter-discourse of resistance to the status quo? How are communities established around borders and what impact might they have on a community? What kind of aesthetic intervention does visual culture, such as photography or painting, play in these considerations? Can art transform a contested border from a “barrier,” through which the other side is invisible, to a place where reconciliation, cooperation, coexistence and visibility can then take place?


We seek papers from a wide-range of historical and geographical spaces that address the discursive limits of contemporary memory studies, particularly drawing on these areas of study:

  • Film/Media Studies
  • Comparative Literature/Narrative/Fiction/Non-Fiction/Poetry
  • Museum Studies/New Materialism
  • Music/Performance/Dance
  • Necropolitics/Forensics/Anthropology/Archeology
  • Pedagogy/Education
  • Politics and Aesthetics
  • Visual Arts including Photography

**Inter/Trans disciplinary approaches are especially encouraged.


We welcome abstract submissions from early career researchers and post-docs as well as established scholars. We encourage applications from a range of academics including current PhD students, particularly from those outside of Western European institutions. All papers will be delivered in English. Paper proposals for a 20-minute presentation should include author name(s), affiliation(s), paper title, a paper abstract (300 words max), and short bio (200 words max).


This academic conference is part of the larger WARM festival, which takes place in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina each summer, and “is dedicated to war reporting, war art, war memory. WARM is bringing together people – journalists, artists, historians, researchers, activists – with a common passion for ‘telling the story with excellence and integrity’.” See this link for more information:


Registration cost: 150 Euros. Concessionary rates of 50 Euros are available for all graduate students, for faculty applying from non-EU/US institutions, and for those can present a case for reduced fees. We can also waive the conference fee for a number of attendees; this is need-based. Information about hostels and hotels will be provided for participants upon acceptance and on our website.


Please submit your proposals no later than March 31st, 2019 to Acceptance decisions will be made by before the end of March and all applicants will be contacted.

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Calendar of Events

Film Screening of “Who Will Write Our History” in conversation with Dr. Stephenie Young

Stephenie Young is  a professor in the English Department and  research associate for the SSU Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Salem State  University in Massachusetts. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the State University of New York, Binghamton and her B.A. in Art History from California State University, Long Beach. She has published widely in both national and international journals. Her forthcoming book, The Forensics of Memorialization, is  about the "forensic imagination," and how  traumatic material culture normally considered scientific evidence is used instead to create visual narratives that shape memory politics in post-conflict former Yugoslavia. With Paul Lowe (University of the Arts, London), she co-organizes the annual conference, Why Remember? Memory and Forgetting in Times of War and Its Aftermath, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. With Dr. Liliana Gomez-Popescu she co-leads the Network for Aesthetic Ecologies comprised of architects, artists, curators and theorists based in Zurich and Lebanon. She has received numerous fellowships and grants to conduct her research on comparative genocide and aesthetics. In fall 2019 she was in Warsaw, Poland as a Senior Research Fellow at the Jewish Historical Institute to conduct research about the Ringelblum archive as part of a larger study about contemporary border politics, evidence and memory.

Please watch the documentary before October 22nd's conversation. The documentary can be accessed here anytime before then:

The talk back will take place via google meets on Oct. 22nd at 7pm:

Support the Uyghurs and Stop The Genocide

An informational session on the Uyghurs. Please support the call for Uyghur abuses to be considered genocide. The Featured speaker will be Salih Hudayer, Founder and President of East Turkistan National Awakening Movement. The talk will be hosted and moderated by dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi, Director of HGI.

Please join us via live stream on our youtube channel at:

Peter Hayes: “November 1938 as Turning Point”?

Please join us on November 12th, time TBD with Peter Hayes for our annual Kristallnacht Lecture and Frederick Schweitzer lecture. Peter Hayes is a professor of History and German at Northwestern University. He specializes in the histories of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust and, in particular, in the conduct of the nation’s largest corporations during the Third Reich.

Please register for the event via zoom webinar:

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