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Slavery in Contemporary Art.
An Interdisciplinary Conference on Trauma, Memory and Visuality

presented by:
CePoG - Centre for Postcolonial and Gender Studies at the University Trier (Germany)

Date: October 26-28, 2006
Conference location: Volkshochschule Trier, Palais Walderdorff, Domfreihof 1b
D-54290 Trier, Germany

Conference Program

Slavery, both in its historical and modern forms, continues to be a matter of undiminished political and social relevance. This is mirrored by an increasing interest in historical research as well as by critical statements from within the field of contemporary art. Since the 1980s there have been numerous artists creating alternative images of how to remember slavery, thus setting new directions for coming to terms with its racist after-effects. How are these concepts to be evaluated? Do they provide insights into the history of mentalities and affects that cannot otherwise be gained? In which way do they relate to cultural processes of coping with slavery, for example the performative and oral histories in Africa and the Caribbean or the visual approaches in European art history?

This international conference is designed to bring together artists and scholars from various disciplines discussing trauma and visuality, or, more precisely, strategies of memory and denial within visual discourse. The main focus will be on critical discussions of psychoanalytic approaches to trauma within the cultural studies and from a postcolonial point of view. Images of slavery and their critical reviewing through contemporary art should be considered as documenting cultural understanding, denial or disclosure of historical traumata and their impact on following generations. A special emphasis will be on West African cultural studies and their approach to historical, local and current events in the context of slavery. Are there any traces of trauma to be found in these visual representations? What part do the various kinds of media play in the re-negotiation of history?

This conference intends to establish the research of slavery within the fields of cultural studies in the German-speaking countries. Its aim is to develop a transculturally differentiated paradigm of images, which allows for an international exchange of visual cultures of memory.
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