Agonism: Conflicting Interpretations of the Past, Participation Practices, and Transforming Cultural Venues

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Join us online for this international conference on the theoretical and practical engagement with divergent interpretations of the past and their resonances across the cultural sector.

For two days, presenters from public history, memory studies, museology, and participatory design will trace intersections of agonism, constituent power, and horizontal politics to activate their potential for transforming institutionalised practices. From digitisation practices and virtual exhibitions, to navigating contested history and memory discourses, to mobilising craft and counter-framing design practices, the case studies demonstrate the breadth of opportunities to inform a participatory agonistic practice impacting mid to long-term strategies in cultural venues.

7-8 December 2023

In-person presentations. Online attendance

Registration for Day 1

Registration for Day 2

Please register to receive the Webex link.


Thursday, 7 December 2023

09.00 Welcome and introduction from the organisers
09.15Panel 1 / Demystifying museum procedures and harbouring divergence
Chair: Joella van Donkersgoed
‘But it’s tradition!’: Collecting and exhibiting traditions at the House of Alijn
Sam De Schutter
Affiliation: House of Alijn, Belgium
Accommodating a history of differences
Karin Hansson
Affiliation: Stockholm University, Sweden 
11.00Panel 2 / The political spaces of museums
Chair: Camilla Portesani
Moving beyond the model of the irenic museum. Study of the process of co-creating a digital experience for the Arts of One World collection at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Laura Delfino
Affiliation: University of Montreal (QC), Canada
Reconciliation between conflicting agendas at the art museum.
Karen Grøn
Affiliation: museum director at Trapholt Museums of Modern Art and Design, Denmark
Agonistic Moments: The Case of Atelier Van Lieshout [online]
Marco de Waard
Affiliation: Amsterdam University College, The Netherlands
12.30Lunch break
14.00Panel 3 / Agonistic memory practices in contested histories
Chair: Rhianne Morgan
Navigating Contested History, Identity, and Cultural Expression in Post Conflict Northern Ireland
William Blair
Affiliation: Director of Collections, National Museums Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland, UK
Somatography of memory sediments: Reinterpretation of time, place and memory
Selma Ćatović Hughes
Affiliation: American University of Sharjah, UAE
15.15Coffee break
16.00Keynote: Museums and Conflict: Speculative Political Designs
Helen Graham
Affiliation: University of Leeds, UK
Chair: Violeta Tsenova

Friday, 8 December 2023

09.00 Panel 1 / Social justice and craft practices in transforming institutions
Chair: Myriam Dalal
Co-knitting cultural heritage: Between conflict, commoning and feminine publics
Birgit Eriksson and Tina Louise Hove Sørensen 
Affiliation: Aarhus University, Denmark
Story Chair: Working to collaboratively craft infrastructures of inclusion in heritage venues with and for women in touch with the criminal justice system
Angelika Strohmayer and Dawn Harrison
Affiliation: Northumbria University [AS] and Changing Lives Women’s Criminal Justice Services [DH], UK
Transforming Walls, Reversing Roles. Graffiti Art in Prison [online]
Gabriella Cianciolo Cosentino
Affiliation: Universität zu Köln, Germany
11.00Panel 2 / Traces of counter-framing (urban) planning and social movements
Chair: Violeta Tsenova
Engaging with Uncomfortable Emotions in Participatory Design [Online]
Chioma Obasi
Affiliation: Hasselt University, Belgium
Countering as an Agonistic Practice of Designing Movements
Noémi Zajzon, Anaïs Carlton-Parada, and Sharon Prendeville
Affiliation: Loughborough University London, UK
Throwing Books at Monuments: An agonistic urban planning intervention on contested (counter-) monuments in Montreal, Canada
Louis-Thomas Kelly
Affiliation: University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
12.30Lunch break
14.00Panel 3 / Horizontal approaches to memory practices
Chair: Helen Graham
Mouffe and Memory Studies – A Partial Agonistic Turn? [online]
Benjamin Nienass
Affiliation: Montclair State University, USA
Decentralizing memory practice: Towards an anarchist approach to agonistic memorialization
Laney Lenox
Affiliation: Independent, Germany / Ulster University, Northern Ireland, UK
Transforming Cultural Institutions with Fabrics: The Cultural Activism Practices of the Sewing Group Unión de Costureros in the Context of Colombia’s Post-Conflict Transition [online]
Ricardo Velasco T.
Affiliation: University of Minnesota, USA
15.30Closing remarks