Mapping Memory at Transnational Intersections:

Affective Politics and Geopolitical Interventions into Cultural Remembrance


Call for Papers

American Association of Geographers, Annual Meeting

Washington, D.C. April 3-7, 2019


Session Organizers:

Dr Jacque Micieli-Voutsinas, Clark University

Dr Danielle Drozdzewski, Stockholm University


The session is sponsored by the Cultural Geography Specialty Group




In her seminal text, Trauma and the Memory of Politics, Jenny Edkins reasserts the centrality of trauma and memory to contemporary processes of state-making and political community:


[T]he production of the self and the state…takes place at the traumatic intersection between peace and war, inside and out… Forms of statehood in contemporary society, as forms of political community, are themselves produced and reproduced through social practices, including practices of trauma and memory (Edkins 2003: 10-11). 


Trauma, according to Edkins, constitutes a rupture between the state and self as the basis of political community.  As Bell (2006: 10) concurs, “discourses of state authority and legitimacy are called into question” during moments of catastrophe, “and a window for re-inscribing new understandings of the world emerges, albeit briefly.”  Consequently, how traumatic events are remembered, if they are remembered at all, plays a significant role in shaping individual and collective identities and reestablishing—or disrupting— post-disaster political orders. 


As recent literature on collective memory and international relations expands (Bell 2006; Auchter 2014; Resende and Budryte 2014, amongst others), the role and usefulness of memory, especially memory of trauma, to the State, intensifies under modernity.  The symbolic power of traumatic memory as a catalyst of modern-day political community garners strength through the generation of “affective bonds” and “a sense of belonging to the nation.  As Auchter (2014:8) reminds us, “Memory constructs our identity, it has the power of naming, of legitimizing.  Memory has the ability to create divisions by hardening political identities and the boundaries between them”, real or perceived. 


Offering ‘official’ accounts of national pasts and pastimes, memorials and museums safeguard collective memory.  These memorial landscapes, and the affective powers they generate, reveal the symbolic power of traumatic memory as (re)productions and performances, “which engenders obligations and loyalty to the ‘imagined’” national community (Bell 2006: 5, citing Anderson 1991).  Here, collective belonging is motivated “by moral considerations and draws ties to issues in contemporary society in a way that is uncommon in standard museum presentations of history” (Williams 2007: 21).  Transforming lived experiences into cultural memory and eventual histories, museum objects, images, and spaces are vital to the production of historical “authenticity and evidence” (Williams 2007: 21), where selected items are chosen for display to construct “emotionally invested narratives of the past” in hopes of effecting socio-political change in the immediate present (Arnold-de Simine 2013:19).  As such, museums, memorials, and commemorative practices have been figured in the institutional cultural (re)negotiations, denoting of the limits of political community, at home and abroad. 


The politics of cultural memory, place-making, and identity are dynamically mediated and hashed out in the space and time of the affective encounter.  Although much has been written about the affective ‘politics of memory’ in situ by geography, less has been written about the affective “memory of politics” ex-situ, where memory’s meaning is aimed at establishing cultural narratives of place for international audiences and publics.  Moving towards understandings of memory as central to geopolitical— and other cross-border— understandings of memory, place, and identity, this paper session seeks to assemble a conversation among critical scholars interested in ways of engaging with the affective politics in places of memory and memorialization at the intersection of the national and the transnational.  Here, the affective politics of memory are rescaled to connect both the everyday ‘politics of memory’ and place-making to the “memory of politics” (Edkins 2003), marking the convergence of the global and the intimate (see Mountz and Hyndman 2006).  As such, memory politics are the center of life under postmodernity.


We welcome paper contributions grounded in theoretical, methodological, and experiential approaches. Some themes include, but are not limited to:

~ transnational memory studies
~ performativity and spatial narratives of memory
~ critical museum studies and spaces of memory
~ thanatourism and heritage economies
~ navigating emotion, embodiment, and subjectivity in heritage architectures 
~ methodological approaches 
~ ethical dilemmas 

Submissions: Please submit abstracts outlining your proposed paper in no more than 350 words by email to Jacque Micieli-Voutsinas ( and Danielle Drozdzewski ( before October 17th 2018.




Dr Danielle Drozdzewski

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

Department of Human Geography

Room 317

Svanta Arrhenius road 8

Stockholm University



Twitter: @danielledroz