Memory and Materiality in Postcolonial and Postsocialist Literatures

deadline for submissions: 
September 23, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Diviani Chaudhuri/American Comparative Literature Association

Call for Abstracts

ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association) 2020

Conference Dates: March 19th-22nd 2020, Sheraton Grand Hotel, Chicago IL

Abstract submission deadline: Sept 23, 2019 (9 a.m. EST)


Memory and Materiality in Postcolonial and Postsocialist Literatures 


Organizers: Diviani Chaudhuri (Shiv Nadar University) (


From heirlooms and objects of daily use to monuments and private residence, materiality prompts and shapes memoryscapes. Material culture and the built environment are mobilised to reappropriate and reconfigure the past. The proliferation of digital platforms of curation have engendered new ways of remembering and commodified commemorating which do not involve institutions but are rather initiated and managed by private actors. This seminar invites papers that discuss the interplay between discourse, material culture, bodies, and the environment in literary cultures of the postcolonial and postsocialist world, where imperial debris (Stoler, 2013) persists and is activated in different ways. In light of the material turn in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the emergence of memory studies as a compelling field of research, papers in this seminar will examine how forms of representation include or exclude the material world, how objects and the built environment prompt and shape processes of remembering and forgetting, how these processes percolate into literature, and how comparative literary studies might generate new insights and frameworks that help understand how postcolonial and postsocialist societies (re-)create usable pasts. Possible topics may include but are certainly not limited to:

Commemorative practices and literary cultures

Conflict and contested heritage

Monumentality and the everyday

Landscape and memory

Kitsch and nostalgia

Digital media, literature, and objects of memory

Comparative imperial nostalgias

Urban culture, materiality and the literary

Forgetting, overwriting, rebuilding

Interpreting objects and sites of trauma


Paper proposals are limited to 1500 characters (spaces included) and must be submitted via the ACLA portal ( by Sept 23 (9 a.m. EST). ACLA follows a distinctive format: each seminar meets for two hours a day for 2-3 consecutive days of the conference. A two-day seminar could have between 6-9 papers; a three-day seminar between 10 and 13. This allows for 15-20 minute presentations, with plenty of time for discussion, and an opportunity for engaging ideas more deeply over several days. ACLA does not allow more than two participants from the same institution in the same seminar. No membership need be purchased before abstract submission.