Of Statues and Stories: Reconfiguring the Democratic Memoryscape

A reflection on the toppling of Edward Colson's statue in Bristol in the context of British politics of memory

Public art attests to a political desire to imprint a certain vision of the past on the country’s memoryscape and to anchor it in citizens’ minds and affective registers. Statues, memorials and monuments aim to make permanent – to ‘set in stone’ – a certain view of history, usually in glorious and heroic terms. Hierarchies of all kinds (political, classed, racial, gendered) are reflected in – and reproduced through – public art. What is celebrated or commemorated is as significant as what is forgotten: defeats, reprehensible deeds by the ‘nation’, [...]

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Notes from the Margin on the Greyzone's Final Conference

A brief report on the Greyzone final conference by dr. Medria Connolly and Dr. Bryan Nichols


Medria Connolly and Bryan Nichols

February 2020

“I open at the close.”[i] Harry Potter fans will recognize this quotation as the script written on the Snitch that contained the Resurrection Stone. While the Resurrection Stone allowed Harry to choose life or death, at a more psychological level it represented a transformation of self through a greater understanding of the emotional complexities underlying his life experiences. The stone symbolized a dredging up, or resurrection if you will, of a felt sense of [...]

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Greyzone's Final Conference

Greyzone's final conference took place in Edinburgh at the end of January 2020.

The conference examined complex processes of political memory-formation in the wake of systemic violence, addressing competing national mythologies, their affective modalities, genres and material instantiations. It paid particular attention to critical artistic interventions, drawing on their ability to reveal the ambiguities of political violence and to sketch images of alternative futures. Our goal was to displace the predominant victim-perpetrator binary, challenge linear political visions of transcending the past and nurture visions of solidarity that remain deeply anchored in the murky terrain of past complicities and resistances. The conference brought together [...]

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New Greyzone Book — Rethinking Political Judgement: Arendt and Existentialism

Maša Mrovlje's monograph just came out with Edinburgh University Press. A must read for everyone interested in the complexity and ambiguity of political judgment.

How can we reinvigorate the human capacity for political judgement as a practical activity capable of addressing the uncertainties of our post-foundational world?

In the face of pervasive injustice and suffering that continuously confound our moral expectations, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and seek solace in despair. More often than not, our judgements and actions seem obliterated under the weight of larger forces and processes, to the point of making the most steadfast pursuit of moral ideals end in disaster. These quandaries foreground political judgement as a topic of [...]

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The Greyzone Summer School and Second International Workshop June 2018

A brief report on the Greyzone Summer School and second International Workshop on the Dilemmas of Complicity, Resistance and Solidarity in the Grey Zone, held at the University of Edinburgh in June 2018

In June 2018, our team hosted an interdisciplinary Summer School on “Navigating the Grey Zone: Complicity, Resistance and Solidarity,” and the International Workshop on “Politics in the Grey Zone: Violence, Complicity and Resistance.” The Summer School explored the complexities of complicity in systemic violence, and probed the ethical and political value of art in shedding light on the ambiguous reality of political conflict. Bringing together perspectives from political theory, history, philosophy and aesthetics, it involved engaging morning lectures by several international experts, followed by exciting presentations from participants in the [...]

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Marine Le Pen, The Vel d’Hiv round-up, and the grey zones of Vichy France

Marine Le Pen has courted yet more controversy by saying that France is not responsible for the rounding up of Jews in Paris during WWII, but grey zones in the country's collective memory still abound.

Marine Le Pen Blog Post imageOn Sunday Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right Front National denied on TV that France or the French state were responsible for the infamous Vel d’Hiv round-up of Jews in Paris on 16-17 July 1942. Corralled by French police into the eponymous cycling stadium, most of these 13,000 Jews ended up in Nazi death camps. But for Le Pen, widely expected to top the first round of the Presidential elections on 23 April, “if there [...]

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Should Universities Revisit their Colonial Legacies?

Summary text

“The days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over. We should move forward.” So announced former student in the history department here at Edinburgh – Gordon Brown. Speaking in 2005, his remarks chimed with a growing trend of revived imperialism, enlisting a range of opinion from Tony Blair’s advisor Robert Cooper, historian Niall Ferguson, Michael Gove, and even travel presenter Michael Palin.

I suggest that what was at work in Gordon Brown’s claim can be understood in the distinction that the great German philosopher, Theodor Adorno, [...]

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