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Contested histories and the parameters of resistance

July 3, 2012
No specified host institution

Berrick Saul Building, University of York

United Kingdom

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Confirmed Keynote: Dr. Alan Rice (University of Central Lancashire)

Representing the past is a contested and dissonant process. The promotion of particular voices and stories within history in line with the simultaneous suppression of others is an action which is both directed by and influences the politics of identity, performances of power and reaction to contemporary circumstance. But alongside authoritative and officially endorsed versions of the past are instances of cultural resistance which seek to challenge the agreed conventions and fill silences. Alan Rice (2010) has described occurrences of artistic reaction to dominant historical narratives as ‘Guerrilla Memorialisation’. Through this terminology the importance of recognising these gestures as a distinctly active, political and performative process. Whilst these actions stand as important acts of resistance in their own right, it seems important to question and indeed try to understand the consequences of these processes of challenge. What are the legacies of such acts and what is their impact on official narratives? What are the boundaries and limitations of resistance to authoritative versions of the past and by whom are they imposed? Who are the audiences for this resistance and how is it received?

This interdisciplinary conference aims to create a dialogue across subjects about the different ways in which narratives, cultural artefacts, spaces and places are creatively used and reused to perform acts of resistance which contest authoritative versions of history. In line with this we hope to raise questions about the different kinds of impact these processes may have on people, stories and understandings of the past and indeed the present.

Conference presentations will be followed by a discussion, led by Dr Zoë Norridge (University of York), which will explore both the theory and the practice of resisting official histories and interrogate the parameters of resistance. We welcome proposals from postgraduate students and early career researchers working in or across disciplines including History, Literature, History of Art, Archaeology, Architecture, Cultural Studies, Film, Geography, International Development, Politics and related fields.



Isabelle Hesse, Jessica Moody, Nicola Robinson


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