Re-Mapping Memory: Possibilities of Postcolonial & Anti-Racist (Counter)Archiving

Conference, 18 March 2021, online


In light of the recent anti-racist protests in reaction to continued police violence in the United States and across the globe, the Princeton-HU Strategic Partnership Research Project Re-Imagining the Archive: Sexual Politics and Postcolonial Entanglements is hosting a one-day digital conference to discuss the current challenges of memorial cultures and politics.

The simultaneous critique of racism, sexism, and transphobia in different places across the globe in 2020 marked a specific moment in time that we take as a prompt to further the conversation on anti-racist and postcolonial memorial and archival practices and methodologies. How and where do we encounter the legacies of enslavement and colonialism in our everyday lives, in our research and our institutions’ histories? What strategies can we find to publicly address and counter these histories of violence? This includes the renaming of streets and the removal of statues but also the creation of new sites of commemoration. Keynote speaker Anjali Arondekar and panelists will address the following questions: How can transdisciplinary gender and postcolonial studies, combining historiographic, literary, and anthropological perspectives, not only challenge existing archives, but also re-imagine methodologies of archiving? How do the body, feeling and aspiration act as archives and how can we approach the archive itself as a processual hub of relationships and struggles? In other words, which archival hermeneutics are required to tell marginalized gendered (hi)stories, including fictional and speculative re-imaginations as alternative forms of (counter)archives, and envision possible queer antiracist/antisexist futures?


09.00-10.30 / 14.00-15.30

Panel 1: Archival Affordances and Political Struggles
Chair: Mari Jarris

Anne Potjans: Transnational Attachments: The Emotional Politics of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

RL Goldberg: Wrongly Bodied, Too: Clarissa Sligh’s Black/Trans Archive

Tara Suri: Between the Body and the Population: The Soviet Vacuum Aspirator and the Politics of Abortion in Postcolonial India (1952-1971)

10.30-10.45 / 15.30-15.45

10.45-12.15 / 15.45-17.15
Roundtable Discussion: Possibilities of Postcolonial and Anti-Racist (Counter)Archiving in the Present Moment
Chair: Wallace D. Best

Panelists: TBA

12.15 -12.45 / 17.15-17.45

12.45-13.35 / 17.45-18.35
Panel 2: The Body as Archive
Chair: Todd Sekuler

Sina Holst: The Body as Time Machine: Trauma Theory, Time and the Body

Jiya Pandya: Living Through History: Reproductive Disability in a Scientific Archive of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy

13.35-14.00 / 18.35-19.00

14.00-15.30 / 19.00-20.30
Anjali Arondekar: Abundance: Sexuality’s Archives

Introduction: Silvy Chakkalakal
Anjali Arondekar (Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, and founding Co-Director, Center for South Asian Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz)

Abundance: Sexuality’s Archives
Histories of sexuality routinely mediate past(s) through archival forms of paucity, disenfranchisement and loss. Sexuality, particularly in the global south, is rescued from the detritus of hegemonic histories of colonialism and nationalism and placed within more reparative narratives of reform and rights. This talk challenges such a focus on loss as the structuring mode of narration for histories of sexuality. Instead, I explore the radical abundance of sexuality through archives in South Asia that are plentiful and quotidian, imaginative and ordinary. Two central questions are at stake here: (1) What if we are to shift our attention from the recuperation of sexuality as loss to understanding it as a site of radical abundance and futurity? (2) What are the archival and/or evidentiary forms that emerge from such a coupling of sexuality and abundance?

This digital seminar will take place via zoom.

Conference links: