Event: Spectres of Justice: The Aesthetics of Dealing with Violent Pasts (University of Marburg, May 28-30)

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Spectres of Justice: The Aesthetics of Dealing with Violent Pasts
International Conference at the University of Marburg, Germany
28-30 May 2015

In the ever broadening field of Transitional Justice the Arts have received scant attention. Yet, it is frequently artists, authors and intellectuals who are to be found at the forefront of civil society efforts to come to terms with a troubled past. Be it in Serbia, Lebanon, Cambodia, Argentina or South Africa, literature, film, theatre, visual arts, music and popular culture are deeply marked by the violent conflicts of the past and the present. While individual pieces of work have been the subject of academic inquiry in a number of disciplines, the relations of cultural production to processes of Transitional Justice have hardly been explored.

On the one hand, artists, authors and film-makers intervene in political debates on the past by creating spaces of potentiality and ambiguity which contrast with the judicial and documentary aspects of Transitional Justice and their focus on establishing consensual truths. On the other hand, narrative conventions and aesthetic forms shape the discourse of Transitional Justice and human rights as well as the implementation of specific instruments such as truth commissions or tribunals. By examining Transitional Justice as a cultural form and enquiring into the role of art and literature in phases of socio-political transition, this conference seeks to elucidate the interconnections and exchanges between these two spheres.

The conference investigates specific cultural products and situates them in their respective social and historical context. It considers how notions of truth, justice, reconciliation and memory are constructed in works of art and literature, by the authors and artists, and in the reception of these works and artists in the media. Finally it explores how this wider discourse on and practice of Transitional Justice is in turn shaped by cultural production.

Paper address the topic from a broad range of disciplines, such as anthropology and sociology, literary and cultural studies, film and media studies, museology and musicology, art history and performance studies, politics and gender studies.

The conference can be attended free of charge, information about registration as well as the programme will be available on the conference website in due course:


Organising committee: Dr Jamal Bahmad, Prof Thorsten Bonacker (Sociology), Prof Susanne Buckley-Zistel (Peace and Conflict Studies), Prof Malte Hagener (Film and Media Studies), Felix Lang, Prof Anika Oettler (sociology), Prof Rachid Ouaissa (Politics), Prof Friederike Pannewick (Arabic Literature and Culture), Dr Achim Rohde, Alena Strohmaier.