The research project, Genealogy of Amnesia: Rethinking the Past for a New Future of Conviviality, establishes a genealogically constructed map of techniques and procedures of oblivion, silence, and amnesia in regards to Europe’s genocidal past in order to develop emancipatory strategies for rethinking a convivial future in Europe and globally.
We specifically address colonialism (Belgium), anti-Semitism (Austria), and turbo-nationalism (“Serb Republic”), all of which are central but not the sole factors for the construction of the past and the present in these territories. The expansive approach of this research project — covering three seemingly disparate and chronologically distant events — by no means implies a homogenization of the experiences of the dispossessed, the discriminated, and the murdered people and communities. What connects these three historical situations are not only crimes that occurred in a span of a hundred years, but the fact that in all three cases — despite the available evidence of documents, testimonies, and analyses — nation-states, collectives, and identities continue to be built on practices of silence, oblivion, and amnesia.
Our method and format — of interdisciplinary, arts-based research — is conceptually and politically connected to the topic of the epistemology of history. Through theoretical research and artistic practices, a realm for the production of knowledge of history is created. In this regard, it is of the utmost importance to understand how processes of empowerment and strategies are built against the politics of forgetting while addressing, initiating, and facilitating artistic practices and theoretical research.
The outcomes of our artistic research on the Genealogy of Amnesia will be developed along three thematic lines:
Memory and history — as contested and complementary practices;
Memory provides meaning to the present and shapes the essence of identity. The power over memory is the power over identity, the power over the fundamental ways in which society seeks evidence of its past and present core values. The space of memory is a space in which social power is negotiated, where it is challenged, denied, or confirmed. This is why the spaces of memory and history must always be critically re-examined, deconstructed, and reconstructed anew.
Archives — oral history, maps and documents that counter the amnesia;
We see the archive as central material evidence, a primary source of knowledge, as well as a site of power. The archive is not a passive container, a kind of objective and neutral storage of history — on the contrary, it manages and controls the way history will be read and thus shapes the current political reality.
The axis of power and knowledge — exposes that knowledge is situated in mechanisms of power and in geopolitical structures;
The dominant discourse in today’s world is a discourse of power. We have to engage critically arts, culture, and theory in order to open up the possibility to investigate history, memory, and the archive for the production of critical thought.