In his essay “Plato’s Pharmacy,” the late French philosopher—Jacques Derrida—points to the relationship between memory and writing. As a pharmakon, “writing” has the uncanny effect of both assisting and hindering our ability to recollect the past. As such, it can be considered a particular technology of remembering and forgetting. The logic of the photograph too, while often thought to record reality in some objective manner, operates in a much more complicated manner, simultaneously highlighting and excising certain material reality through framing and other techniques associated with the medium. Much like writing, photography works as a technology that supplements what is already whole. As a Derridian supplément, both of these technologies of memory work to fortify, but also replace the materiality and empirical historicity of the moment.
This interdisciplinary CRASsH Group will be a sustained and collective exploration into the relationship between techne and episteme, or better put, relations between art/craft and knowledge. We shall pursue answers to the question of how technologies of memory and memorializing (as both an act of remembering and forgetting) are deployed as strategic engagements with experiences of the past. We will not limit our query to a specific medium such as writing, but instead consider other mediums such as photography, digital reproduction, dance, theater, monuments, museum building, etc. In short, we are interested in the complex dynamic between the myriad ways personal, collective, cultural, and national identities are forged on the one hand, and the ways in which the past comes to be represented. We will seek to engage “texts,” broadly defined, but also sites of cultural memory, and the ways in which they are both constructed and questioned in the popular imagination(s) of diverse societies.