25 November 2021
In our first session in the 2021-22 academic year we discussed memory and trauma. The session addressed the intersection between literary and sociological theory; explored how narrative genres can help us to understand how individuals construct meaning of their lives; addressed cultural representations of traumatic historical events; and identified how the metaphors of a barrier or a wall function in the narratives of minoritised students.
Professor Svetlana Stephenson – Memories of Absurd and Grotesque: Remembering Institutional Rituals of the Late Soviet Union.
The accounts of institutional practices and rituals of the late Soviet Union often follow a narrative logic of absurd and grotesque. This corresponds to the common tropes of absurd grotesque found in the Soviet and post-Soviet literature. In her presentation, Svetlana explored how oral history narratives can analysed both as plots that circulate in literary and non-literary forms, and as sociological data on institutional practices.
Robin West – West Dark Tourism in South Korea: The Uses and Abuses of a Traumatic Past
"Dark tourism" has attracted a critical commentary within academia from the invoking of moral imaginations to the commodification of sites of past trauma. South Korea has a dark past in terms of the atrocities committed under successive authoritarian regimes prior to democratisation in the 1980s. With an increase in visitors to sites that can be interpreted in the context of dark tourism, Robin West’s presentation explored the selective, and at times contested, representation of atrocity and trauma in Korea.
Dr Alya Khan – Students Narrate the Social Self: Memories of Trustful Conversations in the HE Classroom
Attempts to address inequalities of outcome for racially minoritised HE students frequently focus on identifying and removing barriers to achievement. The metaphor of the barrier or wall has been widely used to explain how exclusions function, and that of bridges to present potentially inclusive counterpoints. In her talk, Alya Khan shared an alternative story from student narrators, highlighting the role of trust, dialogue, and the constitutively relational social self.
Session chair: Professor Anne Karpf
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