Testimony Memory, Trauma, Truth, Engagement

Tuesday 29th July  –
Thursday 31st July 2014

Mansfield College, Oxford


This inaugural conference aims to examine the evolving genres and emerging contexts of testimonial production Testimony: Memory, Trauma, Truth, and Engagement. Broadly understood, testimony is an autobiographical narrative that presents evidence of first-person accounts of human rights abuses, violence and war, and life under conditions of social oppression. It is a genre that continues to thrive and evolve in the twenty-first century and one that encompasses a diversity of expression or representation—from oral to written as well as nonfictional to fictional.

Testimonial related research includes topics such as: human rights and storytelling; trauma and memory; ethics, witnessing, and reconciliation; affect theory and empathy studies; critical pedagogy. Scholars continue to engage questions that address issues of generic hybridity and metamorphosis; evolving uses, reception, and production of testimony; ethical and aesthetic contexts of testimony; and legal and juridical frameworks of testimony.

Since testimonial production implies a spectrum of disciplines, art forms, geographical and historical contexts as well as multi-lingual realities—it is through an interdisciplinary framework that allows for an ethical exploration of the impact and contributions of testimony and its legacies. It is through interdisciplinarity that a just and fair examination can be made of the impact and contributions of testimonial production within the cultures of redress and transnational justice processes for both the producers of testimony and their audience.

This call for proposals asks for consideration of testimony in terms of its trajectories into questions dealing with memory, trauma, truth, and/or witness engagement. Examples of the above can be seen in, but are not exclusive to, the following categories:

 Genre and Production
– Literary and filmic witnessing: documentaries, witness testimonies
– Life writing genres (autobiography, memoirs, letters, ethnography, etc.)
– Testimonial writing: fiction vs. non-fiction, official history vs. reality
– Social media: twitter, Facebook, Youtube

Trauma and Memory
– Historical memory: spectral spaces, haunted geographies, memorialisation
– Collective memory: oral history
– Healing and recovery: survivor groups
– Official history

Truth and Reconciliation
– Cultures of redress: personal, collective
– Political persecution and torture
– Challenges of truth and reconciliation commissions

Pedagogy and Civic Engagement
– Culture of acknowledgement
– Human rights and social justice: social activism and awareness
– Methodologies and pedagogies of testimony

Proposals for panels and alternative forms of presentation are strongly encouraged on the above and related topics.

In order to support and encourage interdisciplinarity engagement, it is our intention to create the possibility of starting dialogues between the parallel events running during this conference. Delegates are welcome to attend up to two sessions in each of the concurrent conferences. We also propose to produce cross-over sessions between these groups – and we welcome proposals which deal with the relationship between Testimony and XXXX.

What to Send
Proposals will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday 14th February 2014. If a proposal is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of no more than 3000 words should be submitted by Friday 16th May 2014. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs. For full details please visit the conference website.


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