On Saturday 26 May 2018, the one-day interdisciplinary conference ‘Post War: Remembrance, Recollection, Reconciliation’, aimed at early career researchers and postgraduate students, took place at the University of Oxford as a culmination of the Mellon-Sawyer Seminar Series. Postgraduate students, creative practitioners, field-workers and early-career researcher from ten different countries (including India, Burundi, Colombia and the USA) presented findings from their international research on commemorative practices that respond to armed conflict. Eight panel sessions facilitated focused discussions on different aspects on post-war commemoration that included, for example, uncovering subcultural grass-roots initiatives of remembrance, research on the societal impact of commemorative practices, and the construction of visual memory of conflict through art and media. International and interdisciplinary research allowed us to compare cross-cultural evidence from different epistemological positions and to share insights on the significance and purpose of past and present commemorative acts.
A particular highlight of the conference was the keynote lecture given by Professor Marita Sturken (NYU) on ‘Digital Mediations of 9/11 Memory and the Rebuilding of New York’. In her talk, Prof Sturken provided comprehensive insight into the rebuilding of lower Manhattan after the events of September 11 through a visual presentation of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Digital mediation, she argued, is a key factor to experience the museum in its fullness. She examined different media forms which are being used in the 9/11 museum, exploring the role that modern technology (such as mobile apps and digital storytelling) may play in memorialization and critically evaluating the visitors’ active participation in what becomes collectively produced commemoration.
Overall, the conference generated a reconceptualization of understandings towards commemoration by uncovering and unravelling a multitude of international commemorative practices. In this sense, the Conference ‘Post War: Remembrance, Recollection, Reconciliation’ contributed to broadening our own perspectives and perceptions by interactive, thought-provoking discussions with researchers and practitioners.
PhD candidate in Psychology, Oxford Brookes University