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36ème Congrès du CIHA - Lyon 2024

Parrainé par le Ministère de la Culture,
le Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche,
le Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères

Anticipating Memory. What Remains of the War in Ukraine?

Mateusz Kapustka 1 , Dominique Poulot 2

1University Of Zurich - Zurich (Switzerland), 2Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

The session addresses the future of remembrance of the present Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2024 and beyond. Whereas the ongoing destruction of lives, infrastructure, and cultural heritage of Ukraine is currently the most visible tragic effect of the war, its memory is being shaped simultaneously. Memory works with imagination, fragmentation, repression, and oblivion. As such, it already determines the inner dynamics of the event: The course of the war thus appears as an extended event in terms of both unexpectedness and recurrence that reinforce its narrative ineffability.

In these terms, the session virtually pre-reflects the war in Ukraine as an already to-be- terminated course of military action. It anticipates its visual and material aftermath as a realm of grave social remembrance and new historical identity to come. Beginning with the moment of the present CIHA Call for Papers, the session is thus planned as self-reflexive: It seeks to consider the potentially rapid and unexpected development of its own subject area throughout 2023-2024. Accordingly, having that particular dimension of the ‘future anterior’ of the war in mind, we seek to put the deliberately anachronistic-diagnostical questions:

  • What are/will potentially have been the most significant material and visual carriers of the memory of this war?
  • What images of war will be retrospectively in charge of picturing/mapping its past scenario?
  • How do visual icons of war originate and coincide with the material dimensions of remembrance of destruction, suffering, and heroism?
  • What is the material future of the present topography of battlefields; what will be their new potential as sites of memory?
  • What is the intersection of digital imagery and ruined topography, and how does it match the new cultural archive based on indexical data?
  • Does our historical perception of the war’s course depend on the short-lived, topically circulating sensitive visual content material, or does it relate to its long-term consequences, reverberations, and endless processing?
  • How do images help us in the long run to both preserve and forget the course of the tragic events of the war?
  • How possibly wrong were we in estimating the future scenarios of the conflict upon visual information?

In this way, by anticipating the course of collective memory, we intend to report on continuities and discontinuities in comprehending the horrors of warfare as changing in time and being challenged by acceleration. The session, conceived as a dialogue platform for scholars from Ukraine and beyond, thus also elaborates on how the distinction between the direct involvement in war and its indirect perception contributes to the understanding of the common historical heritage, both material and intangible, its present and future.