CFP: Colonial Ruin: (In)Visible Sites of Postcolonial Memory- Amsterdam 6/25-6/26/15 (Deadline 2/1/15)

CFP: Colonial Ruin: (In)Visible Sites of Postcolonial Memory- Amsterdam 6/25-6/26/15
Deadline: February 1, 2015

Organized by: Paul Bijl PhD & David Duindam MA
Funded by: Amsterdam Centre for Cultural Heritage and Identity
Date: 25 & 26 June 2015
Location: Vondelzaal, University Library, Singel 425 Amsterdam

In this small-scale, interdisciplinary workshop, international scholars from different fields in the humanities and beyond will analyze sites of imperial debris, i.e. places marked by ruin or rubble that are physically and/or mnemonically connected to the European colonial past. In recent discussions, humanities scholars have framed ruins as the left-overs of modernity (Hell and Schönle 2010) and have developed the concept of ‘ruination’ as an active and ongoing process of imperialism (Stoler 2013). However, we still know little about the ways in which actual sites of imperial debris are made visible or remain imperceptible as colonial ruins. These sites can either be visible and explicitly presented as colonial ruins (‘ruinized’, such as the fortified trading posts along the coast of Ghana that have been listed as world heritage by UNESCO), or remain unrecognized in hegemonic discourse (such as the Italian colonial concentration camps in Libya).

The workshop aims to bring together scholars working on Asian, African, American and European ruin sites in an interdisciplinary setting ranging across different fields such as memory studies, cultural anthropology, archaeology, literary studies and history. The time frame that will be examined runs from nineteenth century processes of (de-)colonization until the present day.  This two-day workshop will provide a platform for both work-in-progress and more advanced projects. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

–          sites of continuous ruination (e.g. the sugar cane factory Marienburg in Suriname)

–          musealization of European colonial rubble at sites of memory (e.g. Dutch fortresses in Indonesia)

–          contested sites of debris (e.g. destroyed Palestinian villages)

–          competing and multidirectional sites of colonial rubble (e.g. living quarters for colonial solders at former Nazi transit camps in the Netherlands)

Abstract for papers

Please submit a paper proposal and a short biography (max. 250 words) before 1 February 2015 to You will be notified about the selection of proposals by 15 February. All speakers  will be asked to send in a paper by 1 June 2015 so that participants can read each other’s work before the workshop. During the workshop each participant will have 20 minutes to present a paper, followed by 10-minute response by an assigned respondent, and by 30 minutes of discussion.

The workshop is hosted by the Amsterdam Centre for Cultural Heritage and Identity (ACHI) of the University of Amsterdam.  A limited budget is available for the reimbursement of traveling and hotel costs for speakers coming from abroad.

Paul Bijl

David Duindam