1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Some Bodies in the Archive: Second Thoughts and Feelings on Parks and Memorials

  • Reception follows in Brooks Hall Commons¬†

Parks and memorials inscribe material space, often displacing local people in the process. Struggles that ensue in the wake of these displacements are at once material and symbolic, shot through with competing claims of cultural memory. In his writing on remembering, forgetting, and mourning, Paul Connerton argues that cultural memory is sedimented in two kinds of practices: inscription and incorporation. The former entails the storage and retrieval of information in archives. The latter involves human embodiment of memory. The two are of course continually interacting. My work on parks and memorials has thus far emphasized inscriptions in archives (broadly construed), and particularly the ways they efface the very relationships that have made their production possible. Such effacements, I have argued, facilitate hegemonic presentations of culture, history, and nature. Lately, however, I have been turning my attention to questions of incorporated memory in relation to parks and memorials. While the spaces of parks and memorials have historically been exclusive and restrictive, they are also amenable to revisiting in ways that spaces appropriated for economic development usually are not. As such, I believe, they have signiIicant potential for more equitable and inclusive modes of remembering and healing. For the most part, however, this potential remains dormant as inscriptions in archives that are rarely felt or remembered. Realizing this potential depends foremost on the vital power of embodied memory. Drawing from my experiences in Tanzania and the U.S (the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota and New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward), This talk engages realized potential of bodies in the archives of parks and memorials and point to possibilities of what may happen yet. 

Event Date: 
Friday, 20 March 2015 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Jim Igoe
Speaker Title: 
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia