CFP: Why Remember?: Tracing the Past 


Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 7th-9th July 2023

The ‘Why Remember?’ conference 2023 will address the complex and contested questions that face post-conflict societies. What should we remember, what should we forget, and, ultimately, why? It will explore the role of publicly visible memory and its potential impact on issues such as reconciliation and healing in the wake of conflict, and how, either consciously or unconsciously, memory processes shape the present and the future. These questions of memory (and forgetting) are intensely political and have far-reaching consequences, and thus these debates are vital to institutions of cultural memory that engage with the past in order to make sense of the present and build a more peaceful future.

The conference will explore how museums and other cultural institutions deal with traces of the past. What is the role, if any, of such institutions in supporting counter-narratives and making sense of contested pasts as a part of peacebuilding and conflict prevention? The conference will seek to facilitate connections with academics, pedagogues and other relevant stakeholders engaged in mobilising arts, heritage and social institutions in the field of peacebuilding, conflict and cultural discourse, bringing together academics and practitioners who work on post-conflict societies, as well as organisations and practitioners in countries that have recently experienced armed conflict or genocide.

The conference will also explore the role of museums and memory sites that deal with traces of memory, culture and conflict, and ask broadly: how can they more effectively promote tolerance, resilience, inter-group and inter-ethnic cooperation? We are, therefore, calling for papers that deal with a number of sub-questions, such as: What is a museum’s responsibility in the formation and maintenance of cultural memory? Which strategies for public engagement and education work and which do not? How can youth be actively involved in peacebuilding through engagement with museums/sites of memory? How might curatorial, architectural, education and design strategies promote peace? What is the role of art and artists in a museum/site of memory context in contributing to peacebuilding processes? How might digital memories and memory practices be integrated into these contexts?

We are particularly interested in papers that consider counter-narratives, alternative semantics, critical and/or marginal voices, non-narrated histories and pluralist perspectives that run counter to singular narratives that are often imposed from above.

We invite proposal for papers covering a wide range of cultural, historical and geographical spaces that address the discursive limits of contemporary memory studies including, but not exclusive to, the following areas:

• Film/Media/Cultural Studies
• Comparative Literature/Narrative/Fiction/Non-Fiction/Poetry
• Museum Studies/New Materialism
• Music/Performance/Dance
• Necropolitics/Forensics/Anthropology/Archaeology
• Pedagogy/Education
• Aesthetics/Architecture/Urbanism
• Visual Arts including Photography
• Arts/Performing Arts/Theatre

Inter-/trans-disciplinary approaches are especially encouraged.

We welcome abstract submissions from early career researchers and post-docs, as well as established scholars, and encourage applications from a range of academics including current PhD students, and particularly from those outside Western European institutions. All papers will be delivered in English. Paper proposals for a 15-minute presentation should include author name(s), affiliation(s), paper title, an abstract (300 words max), and short bio (200 words max).

It is envisaged that either an edited book, a special edition of a journal or published conference proceedings will be one of the key outcomes of the conference.

The conference will be hosted at the Hotel Europe, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Keynote speakers include Piro Rexhepi and Aida Sehović (to be confirmed).

Provisional Conference schedule

7th July

Evening exhibition opening followed by drinks reception at the history Museum of Bosnia Herzegovina

8th-9th July

Conference proceedings at the Hotel Europe

Registration cost:

In person: 150 Euros

Online: 50 Euros

Concessionary rates of 50 Euros/0 Euros respectively are available for all graduate students, for faculty applying from non-EU/US institutions, and for those who can present a case for a reduction in fees. We can also waive the conference fee for a number of attendees, based on need. We will also have a limited number of travel bursaries for participants from the majority world. Information about hostels and hotels will be provided for participants upon acceptance and on our website.

Please submit your proposals no later than 3 April 2023 at 17.00 GMT to

Acceptance decisions will be made by before the 14th of April 2023 and all applicants will be contacted.

Please contact with any queries.