An Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference

Memory + Truth is a two-day interdisciplinary conference organized by graduate students in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. We invite graduate student participants from any and all disciplines with the aim of fostering cross-disciplinary exchange and debate.

What is the relationship between memory and truth? Why is one rendering of a past event called “memory,” another “history,” and a third “truth?” Far from being consigned to the dustbin of history, memory and truth matter in the present, playing political, social, cultural, historical, and cognitive roles in the human search for a meaningful existence. From Halbwachs on, scholars have argued that memory is as social as it is individual; adding to this, anthropologists contend that expressions and experiences of memory, as well as reckonings of truth, are deeply cultural. What overlap is there, we ask, between historical and social truths, and to whom and in what contexts do such resonances or their absence matter?

We contend that memory and truth are critical, yet treacherous concepts for understanding issues across the humanities and social sciences: from the constitution of societies, states, and subjects to the experiencing and narrating of war and conflict, from issues of refugee, migrant, and diasporic identities to those of colonial and postcolonial politics, from the effects of trauma and debates over remembered histories to material elements and traces of the past, from myths and oral traditions to questions of literary genre and form, from new media technologies to questions of gender, sexuality, and citizenship, from epistemology to eschatology and everything in between. We hope to highlight the diversity in academic work on memory and truth while simultaneously refining our conversations across disciplinary divides with methodological and theoretical creativity, rigor, and productivity.

The conference will open on Friday, September 25th with a series of panels in which students will present 15 minute papers. An interdisciplinary range of faculty will moderate the panels, which will be structured with time allotted to discuss each paper individually. Panels will continue on Saturday, September 26th with public reflections over lunch by Justin Neuman, Assistant Professor of English at Yale University. The conference will close with a banquet and keynote address by John Collins, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center.