The Art of Conviviality
The Art of Conviviality conference and community art festival explores memory’s role in sustaining or confronting racism. Moreover, the conference and festival explore memory’s part in the emergence of mundane, transformative modes of coexistence and their cultures. Lately, conviviality has become an increasingly popular concept in loosely defined fields of cultural and art studies and social sciences as Oscar Hemer, Maja Povrzanovic Frykman and Per-Markku Ristilammi (2020) have pointed out. In the context of this conference, conviviality refers to processes of cohabitation and more importantly co-creation across versatile differences. The dynamics between conviviality and melancholia, observed by Paul Gilroy (2004), seems a plausible framework for investigating memory also in the Nordic countries.
According to Gilroy, both melancholia and conviviality are post-colonial possibilities. The Nordic countries have been marked by their historical participation in the European colonization of the world but also by internal colonization of Sami territories and in the Arctic. Denmark and Sweden profited from the Atlantic slave trade, had colonies in the West Indies, and extracted resources from their northern internal and overseas colonies. Cultural institutions such as national museums have been active in creating and sustaining colonial imaginaries including national identities based on whiteness. Nordic modernism, including welfare states, served to simultaneously establish the claim that the Nordics have been untouched by colonial and racist dynamics and maintain a Nordic exceptionalism. Colonial imaginaries are part of cultural memory in the Nordic and surface in multiple ways, including internal border policing seen in stigmatization of certain neighborhoods and in popular culture. During the so-called migration crisis of 2015, cosmopolitan memory and racist border-politics was co-articulated.
A special case of the dynamic between refuting and enforcing racism emerges in racist attacks and their aftermath. While this type of terror is happening throughout the world, Nordic examples are the Swedish far-right extremist the Laser Man (captured in 1993), the July 22 attacks in Norway 2011, and school attacks in recent years. Far-right terrorists recurrently have been viewed as lone offenders, even though the presence of supportive networks and cultures have been proven. The tendency to view each racist attacks as unprecedented is part of a cultural dynamic from which the attacks gain their power. The bleak pattern of attack followed by victim-blaming make those communities racialized as non-white fear further random attacks and lead other parts of the population to affirm their whiteness (either through fear of the racialized Other seemingly always surrounded by violence or through melancholia over an imagined loss of innocence).
The city of Malmö is an interesting site for exploration of this problematic. Public representations of Malmö are often made in the urban noir genre and have frequently been used to drive far-right ideology. The city is anticipating a new site of memory centred around an antiracist monument to be inaugurated in 2025. Called for by a victim and survivor initiative in 2019, the monument and memory-site will remind of how the city was targeted by a racist serial killer who was able to operate undetected for seven years, and of the victim-blaming, lack of care and denied reparations that occurred in the wake of his deeds. Meanwhile, Malmö, with its young and migratory population, is an incubator of grassroots inventions, and the city has a vibrant activist and community art scene.
It then makes sense that conviviality, in the context of this conference, is also understood as a process of making knowledge and culture together and across difference. The Art of Conviviality conference invites practice-based and theoretical contributions within the field of memory studies and beyond that investigate potentialities, problematics, and preconditions of conviviality, co-creation and collaboration on various spheres of culture and social life. Moreover, we invite contributions that seek to explore roles and various possibilities of memory studies scholars to go beyond offering critique from a detached position. The art of conviviality conference and festival is meant to be a convivial event in itself, with an academic conference taking place in the midst of a cultural festival produced by movements and community groups local to Malmö. The memory of racism will be discussed from different perspectives and through different practices such as scholarship, activism, art and—ultimately—partying.
Confirmed speakers and performers
· Prof. Dr. Tanja Thomas, University of Tübingen
· Curator Joseph Plaster, Sheridan Libraries, John Hopkins University
· Artist Talya Feldman
· Microphone Mafia
We welcome panel, roundtable, paper or art-based proposals dealing with (but not restricted to) the following streams:
1. Memories and counter-memories of racism
2. Commemorations of Nordic colonialism
3. Repeating, remembering, or working-through racism, vulnerability and grief
4. Memory and conviviality in urban life and space
5. Responding to racist attacks across time and space
6. The memory studies scholar’s public role; memory studies and public humanities
7. Arts based memory work
8. Community art and memory-work; grass roots antiracist memory-work; memory-work as a movement repertoire
Please submit your proposals (max 400 words) with a short biographical note (max 200 words) to email@example.com by February 18th, 2024.
Erratum: Due to unforeseen circumstances, the previously published email address is no longer accessible. If you have submitted a proposal to the previously published email, we kindly ask you to resubmit it to the above-stated address.
We will consider proposals based on different practices, including research, art, heritage, activism, and more.