Transformative Memory and Listening
Alejandra Gaviria-Serna, Luis C. Sotelo Castro and Pilar Riaño-Alcalá dialogue about memory, listening and transformation in contexts of political violence and atrocity. Drawing on their current projects and work in Colombia and Canada, they will discuss:
1. In what ways can memory and listening become transformative (or not) of the legacies of violence and violent conflicts?
2. What are the context(s) in which questions on memory, listening and transformation should be considered?
3. Under what conditions might memory and listening processes become transformative?
Alejandra Gaviria-Serna works at the intersections of activism, art, scholarship, and policy, related to society’s rights to truth and memory and the Colombian conflict. Since 2006 she is a founder and member of the Colombian Movement H.I.J.O.S (Daughters and Sons for Identity and Justice against Forgetting and Silence) and MOVICE (Movement of Victims of State Crimes, a movement that brings together 200 organizations in Colombia working for the rights of victims). She was a political advocacy advisor to the Colombian Network of Places of Memory. Until coming to Canada to study a Ph.D., she worked in the Colombian Truth Commission in the areas of Acknowledgement, Recognition, and Coexistence. Alejandra is currently a Ph.D. student in the Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia.
Luis C. Sotelo Castro is Canada Research Chair in Oral History Performance at Concordia University. In his current research-creation, he investigates modes of listening in the context of performances of memory. His creative work has been commissioned by civil society and academic organizations such as the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration. In 2018 he founded at Concordia the Acts of Listening Lab, a hub for research-creation on the transformative power of listening to painful narratives, with particular reference to testimonies by exiles from sites of conflict. His latest publications explore listening in the context of post-conflict performances of memory. For instance, see his article ‘Not being able to speak is torture: performing listening to painful narratives’. International Journal of Transitional Justice, Special Issue Creative Approaches to Transitional Justice: Contributions of Arts and Culture. (March, 2020)
Pilar Riaño-Alcalá is a professor at the Social Justice Institute and co-lead of the Memory and Justice Research Stream and the Transformative Memory Network. Her research interests are on historical memory and the lived experience of violence in the lives and afterlives of mass violence, the ethnography of living traces of memory and social repair; oralities and sound memory, and social practice art. Pilar also is interested in exploring the politics of knowledge and epistemic justice through the use of emplaced and creative research methodologies that draw on other knowledges and centrally locate action and change in knowledge production. She is currently a Senior Fellow at The Maria Sibylla Merian Center for Advanced Latin American Studies, CALAS.
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