CFP: Cosmopolitan Memory and Travelling Trauma (ACLA March 31-April 3, 2011)

full name / name of organization: 
Terri Tomsky, University of Alberta; Jennifer Bowering Delisle, McMaster University
contact email: 

When a collective memory of trauma transcends its directly affected community to be taken up by others, it can be said to be "cosmopolitan" (Levy and Sznaider) or "multidirectional" (Rothberg). The concept of a travelling or a genuinely "cosmopolitan" memory is compelling. Indeed, how a memory of trauma travels across cultures, and develops in time as a shared or borrowed memory is a topic that necessitates further discussion. Like Edward Said's notion of "travelling theory," the transition of a memory from a specific context into a new setting or across a transnational space has significant theoretical and pragmatic consequences. Questions must be asked about how traumatic experiences, especially of political violence, are mediated across space and time; how might a transported memory of trauma sharpen consciousness and shape cross-cultural communities? Equally, how might it enable selective commemoration, and risk reification or domestication?

This seminar invites scholars across the fields of trauma, postcolonial, and memory studies to critically examine the movement of traumatic memories across cultures. We are interested in proposals that address the productive transcultural circulation of trauma – what Michael Rothberg has called "multidirectional memory" – as a politically significant source for oppressed communities. Additionally, we seek proposals that engage the travel of traumatic memory in relation to audience, affect, capital, and cultural and economic imperialisms.

The deadline for 250 word paper proposals is NOVEMBER 1, 2010. Proposals should be submitted through the ACLA website: