Postmemory work and the digital in Southeast Asia

Please note: the event takes place at the University of Copenhagen, City Campus, room 33.1.8

In many ‘post-conflict settings’, that is places where major conflicts, violence or wars have taken place in the past, performative and transgenerational remembrance are seen as pathways towards more peaceful futures. To facilitate transformation such memory work requires creative approaches that open up spaces for reflection, reconstruction and engagement, and it requires supportive wider contexts. Together, they allow for the negotiation of desired futures. Young people are significantly affected by contemporary conflicts. They are usually depicted as troublemakers or victims, but not peace agents. Yet, how they remember a violent past greatly contributes to a peaceful future. Most of them are part of what Marianne Hirsch has coined the ‘postmemory generation’, that is they were themselves not part of past violence and thus rely on mediation to connect to memories of those who were directly affected by it.

At the same time, participatory digital media have become important memory tools. With our focus on transgenerational and performative memory work, we are interested in how young people who grew up during violent conflict or were born in its aftermath remember that violence. In particular, we are interested in how young actors creatively engage with memory, through social media and the creative means related to it. For these young people, the so-called ‘digital natives’, the digital is one important way how to express themselves. How do young people in (Southeast) Asia embrace, complement, challenge or reject national or international memory narratives through digital memory work? In this workshop, we want to investigate the transformative potential of digital memory work with a particular focus on whether and how memory activists are able to circumvent the polarising effects of digital media to remember in ways that allow them to envision and enact a peaceful future.
This workshop sets out to develop a comparative perspective on postmemory work and the digital, with a focus on Southeast Asia. To do so, we invited scholars who study and/or themselves engage in such transformative digital memory work. We are interested in analyses based on both empirical field research material, with a relevant regional focus, as well as conceptual reflections that resonate with the workshop themes, but have no specific regional focus. Through our discussions, we hope to develop a framework within which to study postmemory work and the digital in Southeast Asia and to develop future perspectives and ideas for collaboration.



(V: Joining online)

09.00 Welcome and Introduction
Birgit Bräuchler, University of Copenhagen
09.15 Is Memory Finished?
Andrew Hoskins, University Glasgow
10.00 Discussion
10.30 Coffee break 
Session 1: Myanmar & Thailand (Chair: Mai Van Tran, NIAS) 
10.45 Documenting peace, hate and achievements in Myanmar digital rights activism (V)
Benedict Mette-Starke, University of Konstanz
11.15 The 6 Oct 1976 Massacre Memory and the Anti-Authoritarian Struggle of the Youth Movements in Thailand
Puangthong Pawakapan, Chulalongkorn University
11.45 Discussion 
Discussant: Dat Nguyen
12.15 Lunch 
Session 2: Cambodia (Chair: tbd) 
13.00 App-learning Khmer Rouge history: postmemory and tribunal reparation (V)
Rachel Hughes, University of Melbourne
13.30 ‘Postmemory’, Gen Z and the Digital in Cambodia: Theorizing a Dead Angle
Stephanie Benzaquen-Gautier, University Nottingham
14.00 Media Ruins: Infrastructural Restitution and Building Futures in Post-Conflict Cambodia (Video)
Maggie Jack, Syracuse University
14.30 Discussion 
Discussant: Kimberley Weir
15.00 Coffee break 
Session 3: Indonesia (Chair: Timothy Mann, NIAS)
15.15 Archiving Memories: Intergenerational Tracing in the Peripheral Landscape of 1965 Anti-Communist Massacres in Indonesia (V)
Nila Ayu Utami, University of British Columbia (Canada
15.45 Perform to be More Heroic: Re-enactment Communities of Surabayan Youth on 10th November Commemoration (V)
Grace T Leksana and Arif Subekti, Universitas Negeri Malang
16.15 Truth-telling in the Digital Age: Film as a Site of Memory (V)
Kartika Pratiwi, WITNESS
16.45 Discussion 
Discussant: Laura Burke
WRAP-UP DAY 1 (17.15-17.45) 
Facilitator: Discussants
Dinner (19.00-21.00)



(V: Joining online) 

08.45 Welcome back
Session 4: Timor Leste & Philippines (Chair: tbd) 
09.00 ‘Hatete Loos’: Speaking Truths and Reproducing Struggles for Freedom amongst Timor-Leste’s Post-War Generation
Laura Burke, University of Kent
9.30 Remembering the EDSA People Power Revolution
Kimberley Weir, University of Hull 
10.00 Discussion 
Discussant: Stephanie Benzaquen-Gautier
10.30 Coffee break 
Session 5: Vietnam (Chair: Oscar Salemink, KU)
10.45 Transboundary, transtemporal memory of a Vietnamese-Australian family (V)
Thu Le, University of Melbourne
11.15 Duoethnographic explorations of stories from the generation before that frame the postmemories of the generation after: Alternative histories of Communist North Vietnam in the digital sphere (V)
Long Hoang Vu, Vietnam National University, and Son Vo-Tuan
11.45 Digitalizing Memories of War: Vietnamese Youth, Social Media, and Transgenerational Remembrance
Dat Nguyen and Tam Ngo, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
12.15 Discussion 
Discussant: Puangthong Pawakapan
12.45 Lunch 
Session 6: Future Collaboration 

Commentary by Andrew Hoskins

 Discussion and planning of options for future collaboration, including publications and research project ideas (group work).

WRAP-UP & FAREWELL (15.30-15.45)


The workshop is organised with the support of the Asian Dynamics Initiative (ADI) and the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), University of Copenhagen.