Liverpool is home to one of the oldest and largest Black British communities. The city itself has a chequered history as Britain’s largest slave port with a legacy of conflicted race relations. As one of the most important port cities of the Atlantic world, Liverpool grew financially rich on the proceeds. But the city has also been enriched culturally through the role it has played in forming and framing black communities throughout the diaspora. Liverpool has itself been shaped by the cultures of this diaspora. The city’s rich musical culture (formed in part from African American roots) and vernacular energy give a unique and dynamic quality to discussions about cultural creativity. Its rich heritage, together with the vibrancy and malleability of Liverpool, have led CAAR to hold its 11th biannual conference on “Mobilising Memory: Creating African Atlantic Identities” at Liverpool Hope University.
The conference recognises the importance of memory and memorialisation. The organisers want to encourage papers about memory that see it as an active, ideological and often political process which communities and individual black subjects have used as a mobilising tool to counter hegemonic ideas and societal hierarchies in all areas of the African Atlantic and beyond. Papers can be about the physical action of mobility, addressing the long history of travel narratives in African Atlantic culture—including those where the experience is that of being “always elsewhere” (D’Aguiar)—or it can take mobilising as being more politically attuned and related to the way memory is used as a tool for changing consciousness and for creating homespace in the diaspora. The memory of slavery in the host city of Liverpool is so all-pervasive that its very bricks and mortar were said to be steeped in the blood of the trade. Activists both in the city and beyond have counteracted amnesia by mobilising culturally and politically against such wilful forgetting. The conference comes on the 50th Anniversary of Malcolm X’s final visit to Britain; his intervention in domestic and international racial politics during that sojourn is an exemplar of the local and global implications of memories of black presence creating new transnational realities in the face of global oppression.
Papers can address all geographical areas, historical locations, and narrative spaces where black presence and the memories of it are relevant to identity formation, political activism and/or cultural creativity. As befitting a port city, the organisers would wish to engage with the full global, historical, and creative intersections of the African Atlantic Diaspora in the widest sense.
They would encourage papers on topics on, but not limited to: Historic black communities; Travel Narratives; Museums and Memory; African Atlantic Tourism; Travelling Abolitionists and Civil Rights Activists; Travel Narratives and Memories of Exile; Slave Memorials and Memorialisation; Musical Heritages; History, Memory and Forgetting; Transnational African American Writing; the Visual Arts; Counter or Guerrilla Memorialisation; Folklore and Collective Memory; Gender and Intersecting Identities.
Selected papers from the Conference will be published in a special edition of CAAR’s FORECAAST Series (Liverpool University Press).
Proposals for papers, along with a short cv, should be sent to:
Professor Cynthia S. Hamilton (Liverpool Hope University)
Deadline: 30 September 2014