Slowmemo general conference (Aarhus), June 12-16
Working Group 3 aims to explore the influence of slow memories on political action and decision-making. The working group met four times during the conference to discuss emerging themes across the group (Continuity, City, and Speed/Acceleration), consider how the key insights presented in the plenaries connect to our work, and to develop collaborative outputs. These discussions were productive in moving us towards a shared understanding of what slow memory might mean and how it might be operationalised in the sphere of politics.
WG3 members discussed slow memory in terms of the conservative force of long-standing structures, epistemic frameworks and narratives that have been naturalised as ways of knowing and working. One value of thinking of these as “slow memory” is that it allows us to “see” and thereby challenge these structures. There is a potentially productive tension between continuity and acceleration in this context. Continuity can be interrupted by moments of accelerated change (e.g., in the city with the “sudden” decision to topple monuments or change street names). The city can itself be a site of slow memory par excellence: it is a palimpsest that records slow memory, also in its infrastructures. Slow memory might also be “contained” in objects in homes (and sometimes museums). However, in all cases there is a need for something or someone to daylight that memory (e.g., historical research, personal encounters with the object, or deliberate reintegration of the object into national narratives). A slow methodology can allow us to track change over time and tell longitudinal, historically embedded stories. It also allows us to establish better – more equitable – relationships with stakeholders and informants, which fosters genuine co-production.
We agreed a set of collaborative outputs – many of which are in progress – to further elaborate and refine these ideas. These will include educational resources on antisemitism and Holocaust memory and visual methodologies, a special issue on continuity and one on slow memory and the city, two working papers on continuity and religion, respectively, a policy briefing paper on the politics of commemoration and continuity/sustainability in the city, and a joint project to gather images exploring the 8 March across Europe (as a kind of “slow” commemoration – a commemoration without an event).
Maija Spurina & Sara Jones
image Credit: © Sylwia Ciszewska-Peciak