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Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies

Rosemarie Buikema

Professor of Art, Culture and Diversity at Utrecht University

Rosemarie Buikema is professor of Art, Culture and Diversity at Utrecht University. She chairs the UU Graduate Gender programme and is the scientific director of the Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies (NOG). In that capacity, she also co-ordinates the UU share in the Erasmus Mundus Master in Genderstudies (GEMMA) and directs the annual international Summerschool in Genderstudies: NOISE.

POLITICAL TRANSITIONS AND THE ARTS. This projects aims to analyze the role the arts play in the implementation of a new political regime after a period of gross human rights violations. Coming to terms with the legacies of repression in periods of political transition usually has involved, in recent years, the establishing of a tribunal and/or a truth commission. Nevertheless, as Shosanna Felman (2001) claims and demonstrates, trials and truth commissions risk to re-enact the traumas they try to end in subtle an invisible ways. The law inevitably has to respond to processes which are unavailable to consciousness or to which consciousness is purposely blind.  Art, in contrast, can do justice to trauma in ways that truth commissions or trials cannot. The option of understanding historical causality and temporality within a new conceptual framework, that of working through trauma as performed in the arts, opens up new pathways for dialogue between not only justice and trauma, but also justice and art. It is from this perspective that I will address the possible contribution of the arts to “never again”. The empirical focus will come from the ways in which South African artists interact with the legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Process.

‘INTER(P)LACES’ is the acronym of a European consortium that aspires to train graduates in Transnational Memory Studies (TMS) and Cultural Heritage Management from a feminist perspective. As a consortium we have been applying for research and networking monies from the European Commission. The drafting of the project proposals is led by the Graduate Gender Programme of Utrecht University and Castrum Peregrini, an Amsterdam-based cultural center.(www.castrumperegrini.org) Starting from the founding assumption within TMS that memories are always mediated and thus subjected to processes of in- and exclusion, we stage the project as a means to educate future scholars and cultural entrepreneurs in the bridging of linguistic, visual, spatial and material turns in the Humanities. We focus on the ways in which buildings (places) are interlaced with layers of meaning and we focus on the processes of inclusion and exclusion performed linguistically, visually, spatially and materially. We are looking at Europe in its post-WWII, post-colonial and post-Soviet complexities. By now, the consortium consists of 22 academic and non-academic partners from four European countries, plus one university from the USA (notably Harvard University).[2] [2] The other universities involved are Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Alpen Adria Universität Klagenfurt and the University of Sussex.