Spinning the Sticky Threads of Childhood Memories: From Cold War to Anthropocene 20-21 October 2021

20-21 October 2021

In the words of Donna Haraway (2019, 565), “stories nest like Russian dolls inside ever more stories and ramify like fungal webs throwing out ever more sticky threads.” We are inspired by this provocation precisely 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, amidst both (re)emerging political divides and the growing awareness of our interdependence with other human beings and the more-than-human world in the face of the anthropocene.

The conference invites researchers, artists, professionals, and activists to probe the “fungal webs” and spin the “sticky threads” of childhood, remembering/forgetting, and childhood memories, to use memory as “a tool with which to think” (Bowker 2005, 15) about the past, present, and future. Memory is a productive process as it entangles in events and generates new events (Fox and Alldred 2019, 25). Memories can materially affect bodies, things, identities, and social processes, as they connect past and present events across time and space, producing both continuities and change.

Our conference organization will be based on a Decentered Satellite Conferencing (DSC) model, following three overarching principles: (1) to  reduce the environmental impact of our research and artistic activities on the planet, (2) to trouble established modes of conferencing and create innovative dissemination of cross-national and collaborative research, and (3) to work towards more equal engagements and production of knowledge within and beyond academia. We are acutely aware of the challenges posed by the current times that restrict but also require us to reconsider and minimize air travel. At the same time, we acknowledge the significance of actual personal connections among people during and outside formal conference sessions. This is the reason why our conference blends online and onsite encounters in environmentally and socially sustainable ways.  

DSC is an experiment in enabling participants to connect virtually and on a regional level at one of the four hubs – Tampere in Finland, Atlanta in the USA, Berlin in Germany, and Hajdúböszörmény, Hungary. In addition the Africa Hub will connect participants across the continent in an online format. Hub locations were identified by involving researchers across disciplinary fields, taking account of potentially untapped possibilities for collaboration, such as civil society actors and activists, and reaching out and engaging both already active and new  project participants – academics and artists – globally.

Each hub is organized thematically around its own local call for participation that connects, contextualizes and adds new directions to engage with the conference’s broader theme. Please visit the hub specific pages to explore the local calls. Please note that the conference programme of the Africa Online hub will span for the period of 11-22 October and of the Berlin hub 20-22 October.

We seek to connect disciplines, theoretical and methodological approaches in the humanities and social sciences, research and art, university and wider society across multiple geographical locations, and explore different historical eras through onsite and online synchronous and asynchronous engagements around the conference theme.

The conference is organized by the Reconnect/Recollect project 

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Bowker, G. C. (2005) Memory Practices in the Sciences. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Fox, N.J. and Alldred, P. (2019) The Materiality of Memory: Affects, Remembering and Food Decisions. Cultural Sociology, 13(1), 20–36.
Haraway, D. (2019) It Matters What Stories Tell Stories; It Matters Whose Stories Tell Stories. a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, 34(3), 565-575.

Image copyright by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash.