|The text on the bottom left reads: “Nobody Wins.” On the right: “Silence is forgetting, is death.”|
For someone who aspires to mindful presence, I certainly spend a lot of time reflecting on the topic of memory. Earlier this week, I shared some of my reflections on arriving anew to a country you once called home. I wrote then:
In many ways, arriving anew in a country you once called home lends itself better to processes of memory than discovery. As I wrote in an email to Elijah yesterday, “can you still count firsts if it’s a ‘first time on this trip’ as opposed to a first ever?” There are endless layers of Colombia I have yet to uncover and even more that I have yet to fully understand, so the memory versus discovery conundrum is not for lack of novelty. Rather, it emerges out of a realization that a return to the field,particularly a return to a site you once called home, inspires — almost unwittingly — a comparison of memories. Does this feel the way it used to? Are these the colors I remember? Is this how thin the air in Bogotá always was?
This week has felt like a tug of war between reminiscence and discovery, nostalgia and novelty. It is not only individual memory that occupies my thoughts, but also the notion of collective memory. This personal-turned professional-turned academic interest started–long before I could understand the intricacies of transitional justice–with Milan Kundera. My first copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being was in Greek and it still sits on my shelves in Boston with one of Kundera’s most beautiful sentences highlighted: “The brain appears to possess a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful.”All my favorite writers, from Joan Didion to Gabriel Garcia Márquez, have been conscious of memory and woven its many folds into their narratives.
- Everything and anything by Kimberly Theidon, especially on the topic of Latin America.
- Brandon Hamber’s writing on symbolic reparations and memorialization through a gender lens, especially his chapter with Ingrid Palmary in Ruth Rubio-Marin’s The Gender of Reparations.
- All of Simon Robins‘ writing on memory and enforced disappearance.
- Bridget Conley-Zilkic’s writing and work on memorialization and memory-oriented projects.
- On memory and transitional justice: Richard Werbner, Memory and the Postcolony: African Anthology and the Critique of Power; Pierre Nora, Between Memory and History; Mieke Bal, Jonathan Crewe, Leo Spitzer, Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present.
- And, perhaps most of all, Katherine (also here) — thanks to whom not only have I discovered some of the above writers and explored memory in transitional justice, but also next to whom I have made some of my fondest memories.