Imperial Sites of Memory

Conference | 2-3 September 2011, St Andrews

The Centre for Transnational History at St Andrews (represented by Dr Frank Lorenz Müller) and the Chair of Modern History (Professor Dominik Geppert) at the University of Bonn organised a conference dedicated to a transnational consideration of different categories of Imperial Sites of Memory.

In the wake of the Industrial Revolution several metropolitan powers began projecting their scientific, cultural, religious, commercial, geopolitical and military interests into what they perceived as a colonial periphery beyond Europe. The commemoration of numerous salient experiences associated with this myriad-faced phenomenon emerged as one of the hallmarks of the political culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Memory, crystallised in discrete Sites of Memory or Lieux de Mémoire became a prominent part of narratives that were constructed to generate support for political aims and certain cultural practices (but sometimes ended up inviting dissent). It also helped to form rituals and a rhetoric that sought to exalt the particular calling and distinctiveness of individual nations (yet frequently reflected a shared, transnational pattern).

As Imperial Sites of Memory inevitably arose from situations of encounter between metropolitan agents (individuals or groups) on the one hand and societies indigenous to the areas targeted by imperial expansion on the other, the memory with which they are bound up was often bifurcated. Investigating these sites therefore involves questions of their symmetry and asymmetry, of how they were constructed amongst the colonisers and the colonised and of their different effects and durations on both sides of the imperial relationship.

The conference at St Andrews examines and compares different categories of imperial commemorations that persisted in and across various metropolitan powers: (i) Monuments, (ii) Personalities, (iii) Trauma, Defeat and Loss, and finally (iv) Institutions. The conference will also be mindful of these were perceived and constructed amongst colonised societies.

The organisers gratefully acknowledge the generous financial support received from the German History Society and the Society for the Study of French History


Friday 2nd September 2011

9.00: Welcome and Introduction (Dominik Geppert, University of Bonn, and Frank Lorenz Müller, University of St Andrews)
9.30: Keynote lecture: “Forgive and forget”? – Colonialism in Collective Memory: European and African perspectives (Winfried Speitkamp, University of Kassel)
10.30: Coffee Break
11.00: Panel 1: Monuments (chair: Bernhard Struck, University of St Andrews)

Contesting Power: Contesting Memories. The Memorial Obelisk at Koregaon Bheema (Shradda Kumbhojkar, Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth)
The Thirteen Martyrs of Arad: A Monumental History (James Koranyi, University of St Andrews)
Monuments, Memorials and their Visibility within Newly Established Colonial Rules in Post-Mutiny British India and of Post-Conquest French Algeria (Xavier Guégan, University of Newcastle)

12.30: Lunch Break

Panel 2: Heroes and Villains (chair: Conan Fischer, University of St Andrews)

“Winning an Empire” – Lord Clive and the Invention of an Imperial Founding-Myth of the British Empire (Richard Goebelt, Berlin)
Freedom Fighter or Anti-Tsarist Rebel? Imam Shamil and Imperial Memory in Russia (Stefan Creuzberger, University of Potsdam)
The Making of the ‘Hero of Fashoda’ and the ‘Sudan Machine’: Metropolitan Celebrations of Marchand and Kitchener (Berny Sèbe, University of Birmingham)
3.00: Coffee Break

3.15: Panel 3: Trauma, Defeat and Loss (chair: Stephen Tyre, University of St Andrews)

“Waterberg Day” versus “Ohamakari Day”: How German-Speaking and Herero-Speaking Namibians Commemorate the Colonial War of 1904 (Larissa Förster, University of Cologne)
Love Statues: De-Construction of Japanese Imperial Monuments to War (Barak Kushner, University of Cambridge)
Being the “Best” Victim: Placing Pied-Noir Trauma in a Transnational Context (Claire Eldridge, University of Southampton)

4.45: Break
5.00: Keynote lecture: Forgetting Empire? Indian Memory and the Raj (Anna-Maria Misra, University of Oxford)

7.00: Dinner

Saturday 3 September 2011

Panel 4: Institutions (chair: John Clark, University of St Andrews)

This VOC Mentality! The Dutch East India Company as a Lieu de Mentalité of Empire (Victor Enthoven, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Africa in British Missionary Memory: No Place for Empire? (John Stuart, University of Kingston)
Botanical Gardens and Empire:
Plant Hunt and Colonial Agriculture – The Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem (Katja Kaiser, Freie Universität Berlin)
Kew (Frank Uekötter, Rachel Carson Centre Munich)

11.30 Break

11.45 Round Table and Concluding Discussion

1.00 Conference ends and lunch