Oregon State University American Indian Initiatives


Cultural Memory and the Representation of Genocide
as a Concern for Social Justice
Oregon State University, April 16, 2010



Japenese American Historical Plaza

Wounded Knee

Mural in San Francisco

This symposium addresses questions regarding the exclusivity of memory construction to specific groups, specifically the compatibility of different versions of "cultural memory," as well as the conflict of individual vs. collective memory.

This relates specifically to the attempt to generate a coherent narrative representing the entirety of a culture, to create a cultural memory that everybody may share. Such efforts are challenged by a multitude of coinciding versions of cultural memory, especially by groups that are not part of the mainstream culture and possess their own distinct cultural memory, but also by individuals whose personal accounts of historical events may be at odds with the larger narrative.

Genocide constitutes one of the most radical challenges to cultural representation and to the creation and maintenance of cultural memory. The continued remembrance of unimaginable horrors, of individual and collective suffering, but also of the commission of unimaginable deeds, asks for the very re-imagining of such events. These memories, brought into the fold of the larger culture, ask for adequate representation so as to not just represent suffering, but also to stand as a call to social justice and its responsibility for present and future generations. The construction of such a joint cultural memory oftentimes, however, is contingent upon the ability of different groups to actually recognize the validity of divergent historical narratives.

This symposium seeks to bring together senior level undergraduate students and Graduate students to participate in a presentation and discussion of questions of cultural memory and the representation of genocide. These ruptures in cultural memory and mainstream narratives may be found in how we re-member or dis-member the history and cultural experiences of the Jewish Holocaust (and its multiple factors), African American diasporic experiences, American Indian and indigenous experiences of dispossession and sovereignty, Asian American diaspora and internment experiences, LGBTQ community and the Holocaust as well as narratives of historical exclusion, The Latino migration and dispossession experience. In addition, the symposium welcomes presentations on the international experience which extends beyond the borders of the United States narrative of cultural memory.

This symposium was preceded by the conference "Whose Culture, Whose Memory? The Rhetoric of Group Identity in a Transatlantic Context" on Feb 12, 2010 at Potsdam University, Germany, in cooperation with Wroclaw University, Poland.


Date and Time:

April 16, 2010, 10 AM - 5 PM

Lunch provided with dinner afterward on your own

Conference Venue:

Oregon State University, Joyce Powell Leadership Room


for special accomodations, please call 737-40 98

see also: print version of the call for papers

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