RN02_04b: Culture and Public Memory
Beyond Europe: Belonging and Repair in Visual Culture and Public Memory
University of Rome III, Italy
Our contribution refers to the connection between photography and memory, with a particular focus on the images associated to traumatic events. Our theoretical questions address the nature, the role, and the function of the photographic representation of a traumatic event: a picture is considered as a “condenser”, a container of a particular part of the reality, and a conveyer of meanings in the public arena. In particular, we wish to stress the efficacy of the arts and their implications for questions of belonging and controversial pasts. In our view, this places the sociology of the arts on the forefront of the study of culture, providing a framework for the investigation of more general implications and human variables. Our investigation will focus on contemporary art works that speak of a past that cannot be forgotten and wounds that cannot be fully healed, but still demand recognition in European history or, we could say, an alternative form of “repair”. Indeed, an act of repair always brings to the fore an open-ended process of transformation, particularly when it involves experiences of communal trauma. For example, in the provocative work of the Berlin-based French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, the attention is drawn on European colonialisms and wars, damaged bodies, and repaired objects. Here, the artist brings us into a decomposed and alternative archive, which is not a monument of the past, but an aspiration for alternative futures and ethico-aesthetic forms of repair.
Reimagining African Ccultural Heritage in Lisboa Through Collaborative Projects
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Centro de Investigação e Estudos de Sociologia (CIES-IUL), Portugal
As part of an ongoing ethnographic research on community art, a case study will be presented of a local association on the periphery of Lisbon and two of its recent projects to promote African cultural heritage.
"Danced fado" involve dance workshops and public performances of a historical variant of the musical genre, now less known or even forgotten, quite different from the Lisbon urban song identified with the renowned 'fado' tradition. This project originates from a collective journey of researching and reinventing African cultural references, involving professional and amateur artists, while crossing different cultural repertoires associated with the origins of 'fado' (in particular Arab and Brazilian influences). The work process includes research of historical documentary sources, as well as the mix of traditional and contemporary artistic languages.
" African Lisbon - Guided Tour" maps relevant cultural monuments and symbolic places from oral tradition, highlighting spaces of remembrance of African presence in Lisbon. The project is based on academic research and represents different partnerships and new challenges for the association, including a greater public awareness for its cultural and social work.
Both projects entail partnerships that may open new horizons in the future. Crucial to this is the ability to establish collaborative networks with artists and academics, as well as public and private institutions. In short, these projects are part of the strategy of sustainability and activism in the urban space that the association has been looking for.
Constructing Collective Memory through Choral Singing in Fukushima
Ritsumeikan University, Japan
This presentation will argue that a collective memory of a region can be made through choral singing practice, taking the example of the case of Fukushima in Japan.
Fukushima prefecture is famous for eager participation in choral activities and is known as “the kingdom of chorus” in Japan. People in this area have reconstructed their homeland and cultural life after World War II through chorus. Eight amateurs first formed the “FMC Choral Group” in 1947, and they sang Western art music and Christian music, which have no relationship to this region. Since then, choral singing has quickly spread among various adult circles and school activities, so both young and old residents are involved in chorus. The daily choral activities in Fukushima constructed a community image among its inhabitants. In addition, after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, choral singing activities in Fukushima played an important role in overcoming the disaster and ascribing a collective memory of the landscape. Such activity led to cultural exchange with foreign countries. In this area, chorus was always the essential element to recovering from the devastation of the war and the earthquake. Each time disaster strikes, people reconfirm their common image of their homeland. I will examine the constant choral activities in terms of Alfred Schutz’s argument in “Making Music Together” and Maurice Halbwachs’ collective memory theory.
The Social Construction Of Artistic Judgement: An ethnography of a theater rehearsal
UNIVERSITAT AUTONOMA DE BARCELONA, Catalunya, Spain
How can we understand artistic judgement sociologically? Theater or dance rehearsals arise from the multitude of small decisions made by participants. A play is an intentional and intersubjective product, which emerges when there is a shared knowledge in which "all-participants-know-they-all-know-what-they-know" (D'Andrade, 1995 ). Moreover, for ethnomethodology every judgment follows rules of interaction in context (Cicourel, 2002, Lieberman, 2013, Schwarz, 2013, DeNora, 2014, Fele, 2016). Artistic judgements happen in an institutional environment and in a specific geographical context. Thus,we need to start from an observation of the concrete, following Simmel (1903). We intend to understand a certain dimension of the artistic decision process, the shared attention of the participants of an essay. Specifically, we define synchronously the intersubjective meanings that go hand in hand with a sense of mutual orientation and collective action; and we analyze diachronically the multimodal communication that goes towards consensus or dissent. Methodologically, we started an ethnographic observation of the physical theater company La Fura dels Baus, which we analyzed through a conversational analysis and ELAN qualitative video analysis program. The results show that if art provides a field for innovation and new possibilities of meaning, it is thanks to (and not in spite of) a particular form of selective (dis) attention.