I am developing the following review article for Geography Compass. This abstract is far from final, but is perhaps a useful pre-writing exercise for the article to come. Comments welcome.
Political geographies of memory and aesthetics: to remember and also reconfigure the world
Political geographers of memory agree that stories of past struggle can be deployed to the effect of mobilizing allies in pursuit of addressing a perceived wrong. This consensus is developed in relation to but challenges a functionalist tradition of social scientific work on collective memory, which tends to naturalize social order and write out any potential for its disruption. This article suggests that the endurance of Durkheimian functionalism in political geographies of memory is paradoxically revealed by a relative scarcity of research on how practitioners of a politics may deploy stories of the past to the effect of unintentionally dissolving their ostensibly ‘political’ practices into ritualized certainties proper to a given social order. Put differently, the literature on political geographies of memory is still wanting for attention to historically and geographically specific processes of depoliticization through which the disruptive potential of remembrance is hemmed in. Interdisciplinary scholarship on the relationship between politics and aesthetics invites this latter line of inquiry, particularly post-Althusserian work on critical spatial practices that intervene in naturalized social-spatial orders. Scholars examine how dissensual practices disrupt a perceptive field and thereby facilitate the reconfiguration of the world of our thinking, saying, and doing. This review article suggests that, at the intersection of political geographies of memory and literature on the relationship between politics and aesthetics, political geographers may find resources to theorize practices of memory through which people not only remember the past but also reconfigure the given world in relation to which historically and geographically specific modes of politics might be articulated.