Special Issue "Social Memory: The Poetics and Politics of Remembering and Forgetting"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2021) | Viewed by 6977

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Assefa Tefera Dibaba
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Oromo Language, Folklore, & Literature, College of Humanities, Languages, Communication, & Journalism, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa 1176, Ethiopia
Interests: ecopoetics/ethnoecology; resistance studies; folklore; comparative literature; oral tradition; narrative research; literary nationalism; literary memory; memory research; sacred ecology
Prof. Dr. Francesca Orsini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics, SOAS University of London, London WC1H 0XG, London
Interests: North Indian Literary Culture and History; contemporary literature; popular culture; Hindi-English language; the worldliness of literature
Prof. Dr. Sadhana Naithani
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067, India
Interests: German language, literature and folklore; folklore theory; post colonial theory and Indian culture studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The open access journal Humanities is planning a focused Special Issue on “Social Memory” in accordance with its scope and aims. Memory matters. Memory is story. The long-term communal understanding of the dynamics of a social/cultural change following a crisis and the transmission of pertinent collective experience constitutes what is called “social memory”. In times of a claimed crisis of memory, the need for an interdisciplinary approach to study the poetics and politics of memory as well as its social dynamics, ideological, methodological, and theoretical intersections in humanities and social sciences is crucial. To consider the social memory of relevant and significant events that lays ground for experiential knowledge becomes essential as societies, who once experienced a collective vulnerability, anticipate social or ecological resilience, a return to a normal and effective life condition, and an optimistic and positive move towards recovery from the crisis.

The following are numerous reasons for this Special Issue focused on “Social Memory”:

First, once the coronavirus pandemic is over, or any crisis of that kind for that matter, humanity is destined to live with the living memory of an unbearable pain of loss of family members, grandparents, neighbors, colleagues, and friends both far off and nearby. Once the crisis is over, it is fair to ask, should humanity take for granted this precious life and the priceless gifts of nature: the sunrise, the sunset, the fresh air, the surrounding greenery, or, value it above all, hug it, and show love and care for everyone and everything as if it were the last day on this marvelous planet earth and appreciate the environment it lives in? This social memory, and memory of a crisis of an equal magnitude, is a haunting shared experience for humanity, in general, at the same time around the world, at “local” and “global” levels, which is compelling and worth considering in memory studies.

Second, there are other historical griefs of loss―both human and ecological―that humanity is condemned to re-play and to re-enact in the mind as an uncomfortable experience/memory of guilt or grievance—collective or individual—which is left unsettled for generations to contemplate. Thinking of the war of nations, the assumption that the winners never remember, the losers never forget holds true at least for two reasons: On the one hand, what the losers lost in the war is not just the battle but also their home, their family, their people, their land and land resources, their country, and their freedom and pride. This bitter collective memory, which the loser is unable to forget, is a historical recollection identified with particular memory sites than others. On the other hand, for the winners some memories are simply intolerable, and they choose collective silence or collective forgetfulness, an ideal metaphor for which is “burying the past”. It is appropriate to seek methodological and theoretical means of studying such rival memories/histories and strategies, to juxtapose them at a symbolic level through national literature/s or heritage conservation, which can constitute what one may call memory narratives or literary memory.

The Humanities Special Issue offers a nuanced perception of the theme of social memory in relation to landscape, culture, and ecology as becomes evident in oral, written, and visual accounts of the collective experience of the cultural group. The themed papers in the Special Issue are expected to provide a space for understanding “social memory” by exploring how humans encode experience to respond to a crisis of some kind, to enhance social resilience and minimize collective vulnerability. The Humanities Special Issue will serve as a context to try multiple perspectives and interdisciplinary approaches to allow the understanding of different points of view based on different experiences of social and environmental injustices that humanity suffers.

Contributors are expected from Literature, Folklore, Anthropology, Sociology, Ecology/Environmentalisms, History, Psychology, Resilience Studies, and Memory Studies.

Reference

El-Shamy, Hasan M. 1967. Folkloric behavior : a theory for the study of the dynamics of traditional culture. https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/8959

Dr. Assefa Tefera Dibaba
Prof. Dr. Francesca Orsini
Prof. Dr. Sadhana Naithani
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • social/collective memory
  • literary memory
  • memory sites
  • social/ecological resilience
  • contesting memories/histories
  • environment/nature
  • collective vulnerability
  • memory narratives/stories
  • poetics
  • remembering and forgetting

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Lake Qooqa as a Narrative: Finding Meanings in Social Memory (A Narrative Inquiry)
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020077 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1350
Abstract
Lake Qooqa in Oromia/Ethiopia started out as a man-made lake back in the 1960s, formed by the damming of the Awash River and other rivers for a practical function, i.e., for hydroelectric power. The lake flooded over the surrounding picturesque landscape, shattered sacred [...] Read more.
Lake Qooqa in Oromia/Ethiopia started out as a man-made lake back in the 1960s, formed by the damming of the Awash River and other rivers for a practical function, i.e., for hydroelectric power. The lake flooded over the surrounding picturesque landscape, shattered sacred sites and the livelihoods of the Siiba Oromo, and damaged the ecosystem in the area, which was later resuscitated to have an aesthetic function for tourists. Available sources showed that people used the lake for irrigation, washing, fishing, and drinking, while tanneries, flower farms, and manufacturing facilities for soap and plastic products were set up along the banks without enough environmental impact assessment and virtually with no regulations on how to get rid of their effluents, which contained dangerous chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, chromium, lead, and cadmium, giving the lake a blue and green color locally called bulee; hence, the name the “Green Lake”. In the present study, following a string of “narrative turns” in other disciplinary fields of humanities and social sciences (folklore, history, and anthropology), I use social memory and life hi/story narratives from Amudde, Arsi, Oromia/Ethiopia, to consider a few methodological and theoretical questions of folkloric and ecological nature in doing a narrative study: What is social memory? What does social memory reveal about the people and the environment in which they live? Is a personal narrative story folklore? Where do stories come from? What should the researcher do with the stories s/he collected? Hence, this study aims to tackle two objectives: first, using social memory data as a means to connect social identity and historical memory set in a social context in which people shape their group identity and debate conflicting views of the past, I explore the Green Lake as a narrative, which is, in its current situation, a prototypical image of degradation and anthropogenic impacts, and trace trajectories and meanings of social memory about the shared past, i.e., the historical grief of loss that people in the study area carry in their memory pool. Second, toward this end, I use people’s stories from the research site, particularly Amina’s story about the loss of seven members of her family from complications related to drinking the polluted water, as evidence to show, sharing Sandra Dolby Stahl’s claim, that the narrative of personal experience belongs in folklore studies to the established genre of the family story. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Memory: The Poetics and Politics of Remembering and Forgetting)
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Article
Storytelling through Popular Music: Social Memory, Reconciliation, and Intergenerational Healing in Oromia/Ethiopia
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020070 - 21 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2327
Abstract
Drawing on a popular music video titled ‘Beelbaa’ by a young Oromo artist, Jambo Jote, this article discusses the moments and contexts that compel young people to speak up in subtle and poetic ways. By interpreting the content of the lyrics, doing a [...] Read more.
Drawing on a popular music video titled ‘Beelbaa’ by a young Oromo artist, Jambo Jote, this article discusses the moments and contexts that compel young people to speak up in subtle and poetic ways. By interpreting the content of the lyrics, doing a visual analysis of the music video, and connecting both to contemporary discourses, it explores how researching social memory through music can be used as a lens to understand Ethiopian society, politics, and history. The article draws attention to alternative spaces of resistance as well as sites of intergenerational connections such as lyrics, music videos, songs, and online discussions. I argue that storytelling through music not only bridges differences on problematic and sometimes highly polarized discourses engendered by selective remembering and forgetting of national history, but that it is also indispensable for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. Tuning into young people’s music can touch us in ways that are real, immediate, and therapeutic, making it possible for our collective wounds to heal. I further demonstrate that as musical storytelling appeals to multiple generations, it can facilitate mediation, truce, and intergenerational understanding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Memory: The Poetics and Politics of Remembering and Forgetting)
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Article
The Role of Feminist Health Humanities Scholarship and Black Women’s Artistry in Re-Shaping the Origin Narrative of Modern, U.S. Gynecology
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10010058 - 23 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1431
Abstract
Between 1845–1849, twelve enslaved women in Montgomery, Alabama lived through prolonged, gynecologic experimentation at the hands of Dr. James Marion Sims. What happened, in his 16-bed backyard hospital, often begins the origin narrative of modern U.S. gynecology and how it developed into a [...] Read more.
Between 1845–1849, twelve enslaved women in Montgomery, Alabama lived through prolonged, gynecologic experimentation at the hands of Dr. James Marion Sims. What happened, in his 16-bed backyard hospital, often begins the origin narrative of modern U.S. gynecology and how it developed into a discrete and international, Western, scientific field of medicine. Sims autobiography references three of these women, by their first names only: Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey. The research questions here are: what more can be known about these women’s lives, their possible social networks and their cultural legacies? Further, what changes if the origin narrative of modern, U.S. gynecology begins with feminist health humanities scholarship and in the pages of black women’s artistry? I discuss original research findings, involving the following primary source: an 1841 property deed, mentioning the first names of 7 other enslaved people owned by Sims. I, then, examine cotemporary U.S. feminist scholarly writing and artistic cultural representations, centering the lives of the women as important historical figures. Last, I conceptualize the notion of poetic ancestral witnessing within the work of the following three, twenty-first century, African American, poets: Bettina Judd, Dominique Christina and Kwoya Fagin Maples. These women published poetry collections on this history, between 2014 and 2018. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Memory: The Poetics and Politics of Remembering and Forgetting)
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