“Women Mobilizing Memory,” a three-year working group of Columbia’s Center for the Study of Social Difference, explores the politics of memory in the aftermath of the atrocities of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in comparative global perspective with unique attention to the effects of social difference. Focusing on the shaping role of gender in the structures of political violence, the working group analyzes the strategies by which women artists, scholars and activists have succeeded in mobilizing the memory of gender-based violence to promote redress, social justice, and a democratic future. Looking at gendered memory politics in several sites around the world, the group has analyzed these in a broader connective context. From the fortieth anniversary of the Chilean coup, the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, and cycles of violence against indigenous and minority peoples in Chile, Turkey and the United States, it has featured activist and future-oriented modes of representation and commemoration. At the same time, it probes the limits of comparative and connective approaches to memory politics. Based in the Humanities and the Arts, the group looks closely at the political efficacy of various media of memory, ranging from visual art, literature, journalism and performance to museums, memorials, and street actions. What role do these various media play in combatting the erasure of past violence from current memory and in creating new visions and new histories for future generations? The collaborations among the participants in the working group, their face-to-face as well as virtual meetings and their constructive conversations and disagreements, aim to create a space of solidarity and co-resistance that can lay the groundwork for a more hopeful future.
The “Women Mobilizing Memory” working group consists of scholars and graduate students representing fields ranging from history, anthropology, and sociology to literature, performance and visual arts, as well as artists, writers, curators and journalists from the United States, Chile and Turkey. The group met in Santiago, Chile in 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey in 2014 and it will meet in New York in September 2015, bringing its questions to bear on memory politics, gender and social difference in the contemporary United States.
The group will meet at Columbia and New York University September 8 - 12 to discuss work in progress; it will visit memory sites in Harlem and lower Manhattan; and it will sponsor a number of public events:
•An exhibition at Leroy Neiman Gallery on “Collaborative Archives: Connective Histories,” from September 7 - 18 featuring visual artwork and oral histories by New York artists Susan Meiselas, Lorie Novak, Simone Leigh, and Kameelah Janan Rasheed; Berlin-based Armenian artist Silvina der Meguerditchian; Santiago-based artist Paz Errazuriz; and Istanbul artists Aylin Tekiner and the Truth Justice Memory Center. The exhibit will partner with community arts organizations in Harlem.
•Exhibition opening reception September 8, 5-7 p.m., followed by an artists’ roundtable discussion moderated by Carol Becker, Dean of the School of the Arts, from 7:30-9 p.m. in East Gallery Buell Hall.
•A second part of the exhibition, “CHILE: 40 Years of Struggle and Resistance,” will be on view at the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, NYU, 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor, from September 11- October 23. Opening Reception, September 11, 7 p.m.
•A one-day public conference on September 10, 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., featuring roundtable discussions on “Performances of Protest and Activism,” “Mobilizing Memory Sites: Istanbul, Santiago, New York,” and “Intimate Archives/Political Violence.” Speakers will include, Meltem Ahiska, Ayse Gul Altinay, Tina Campt, Hazel Carby, Maria José Contreras, Milena Grass, Andreas Huyssen, Kellie Jones, Nancy Kricorian, Alisa Solomon, Leo Spitzer, Marita Sturken, Diana Taylor, Carla Shedd, and Deborah Willis.