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Conference memories are made of this

Conference memories are made of this

A conference exploring the nature of memory and how it can impact on individual perceptions of personal history and public recollections of historic events is being held at Te Papa, Wellington, next week.

Discussions will focus on subjects as diverse as the Tokyo subway sarin gas attack of 1995, the Katyn forest massacre of 1940, and social memories of television shows such as Mad Men, the recent American drama set in the early 1960s America, and the effect programmes like these have on people’s recollections of the period portrayed.

The Contained Memory Conference, co-hosted by the University's College of Creative Arts from Thursday to Saturday December 9-11, is one of the first of its kind and has attracted some of the foremost thinkers on the subject. More than 70 papers and abstracts will be presented.

Opening keynote speaker, University of Massachusetts Professor of English and Judaic Studies James E Young, will address issues relating to public memorials erected to commemorate world wars and other tragedies.

Conference co-organiser Associate Professor Kingsley Baird, from the School of Visual and Material Culture, says Professor Young will specifically address the “conceptual arc” of two memorial processes – the Denkmal to Europe’s murdered Jews and the 9/11 Memorial in New York – in order to explore the ways both the monument and our approach to it have evolved over the course of the 20th century.

“The conference is a fantastic opportunity to avail ourselves of the great knowledge our guests and artists can bring to the international multi-disciplinary community concerned with memory,” Mr Baird says.

Other guests include Latin American and contemporary art curator Dr Hans-Michael Herzog, clinical neuropsychologist and dramatist Paul Broks, artist Humberto Velez and, from New Zealand, historian Dame Claudia Orange, poet Jenny Bornholdt and Massey University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Mason Durie, who is a specialist on indigenous rights and national identity.

All five keynote addresses are open to the public for a charge of $10 each.

The conference is a partnership between Massey, Syracuse University in the United States and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

ENDS

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