The Arab Archive: Mediated Memories and Digital Flows - A Two-Day Workshop at JCU

The Arab Archive: Mediated Memories and Digital Flows is a two-day workshop that examines the political economy of the Arab Image, and reflects upon the materiality, ethics, and aesthetics of filming, distributing and archiving post-2011.

John Cabot University, Via della Lungara 233, Rome
24-25 May

At a time when the revolutionary moment seems to have disappeared in the midst of civil wars, violence and the re-establishment of older reforms, the question of representation of the past attains a new salience. This raises a number of analytical questions, which the workshop will address. Which histories of the Left do historians, activists, artists, revolutionaries and others invested in re-working memories of social and political struggle highlight? More generally, what role does the past play in the war in Syria, in the occupation of Palestine, and in popular protests across the region? Are there unexplored and fertile avenues of collaboration between historians and memory activists? Who defines the contemporary political economy of the Arab Image post-2011? Which subjects and powers, local, regional and international, contribute to shaping the politics, ethics, and aesthetics of the contemporary Arab archive?

An essential feature to explore is how the Internet seemingly facilitates processes of sharing and archiving the past in a seamless and easy to access way, yet at the same time contributing to reinforcing power inequalities between international and local subjects in terms of establishing what to remember and what to forget, and turning memory and knowledge of the past into commodified and copyrighted goods. The political economy of a whole slew of events and exhibitions, from film festivals to museum shows, that draw on the post-2011 archive will also be discussed and analyzed. In our times, contestation over memory plays out in ways that are increasingly situated in transnational and digital networks of knowledge and cultural production. Memory studies, once the arena for the ‘genteel’, slow grind of changing ideas over decades in national cultures, is only gradually coming to terms with the impact of new technologies. In order to understand the complex formation of memories of recent events, digital archiving and digital memory must be studied along with oral history and more traditional media such as films, novels, poetry and magazines.

The workshop features scholars, artists, and activists from the Arab region, Europe, and the US. Working language is English. The workshop is free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory: please email [email protected] stating your name and affiliation.

On the evening of 24 May a round table, screenings, and the live performance ‘Immagine Sparita’ will be hosted at ESC Atelier Autogestito, Via dei Volsci 159  Learn more.

24 May
Introduction by Donatella Della Ratta, John Cabot University
Philip Rizk, filmmaker and member of the Mosireen Collective
Basma al Sharif, artist and filmmaker

12:30-1:30 pm Lunch break

1:30-4:00 pm
Introduction by Sune Haugbolle, Roskilde University
Laure Guirguis, researcher, IREMAM (CNRS-AMU)
Enrico de Angelis, Free Press Unlimited & Syria Untold

6pm evening at ESC Atelier Autogestito

25 May
10:00-12:30 pm
Introduction by Kay Dickinson, Concordia University
Miryam Aouragh, University of Westminister
Abed Takriti, University of Houston

12:30-1:30 pm Lunch break

1:30-4:00 pm
Introduction by Donatella Della Ratta, John Cabot University
Dork Zabunyan, University of Paris VII
Ali Atassi, Bidayyat production company

4:00-5:00 pm

Final discussion and wrap up