Mobilising affect and trauma: the politics of gendered memory and gendered silence

Publication Name

Women's History Review


In recent years there has been a flurry of activity and controversy around the subject of public memory. Forms of cultural heritage, especially statues, have been variously lobbied for, defaced, re-storied or removed. Collectively these protest events and movements draw our attention to the potency and affective potential of public memory. This is true whatever the nature of the ‘institution’ doing the remembering, for example, a public statue or a museum or an organised body of protesters. Recognising that some memories are fragile, gendered, racialised, ethnicised and nationalised, this article establishes this special issue’s investigation into the gendered mobilisation of affect, trauma and memory. Whereas some contributions explore the ways in which women’s traumatic pasts are since remembered, misremembered, mediated or silenced, others look at how recalling or failing to recall certain versions of the past inflicts trauma on some women in the present. Through looking at the forces acting on representations of the past, and emotions elicited both through telling and hearing about various pasts, as well as not telling and not hearing about various pasts, we suggest new ways of thinking about the nexus between gender, agency, affect and memory.



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