Memory Waka

Memory Connection Journal

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Kingsley Baird, Kendall R. Phillips, and María Alejandra Vitale


This volume, the fourth in the series of the Memory Connection online journal,
represents exciting developments for The Memory Waka Research Group. It is the
Waka’s first publication to include the research of our new partners, the University
of Buenos Aires, along with research from longstanding partners Syracuse and
Massey universities from the US and Aotearoa New Zealand respectively.
Secondly, it is the first occasion the journal has included the Spanish language
in what is primarily a bilingual publication; all the articles are in both English
and Spanish. Another first is an article in te reo Māori, the Māori language.

The title of this volume is that of an online symposium hosted by Syracuse
University in October 2022. Memory: Sites, Trauma & Materiality / Memoria:
Trauma, Sitios y Materialidad brought together academics and students from
Syracuse University, Universidad de Buenos Aires, and Massey University to
present their memory research to each other for the first time. Despite the
challenges of distance, language, and technology, this ‘pilot project’ provided
strong evidence that the creative arts and rhetorical memory research of the three
Waka clusters has a strong affinity. An in-person conference, Artes y retóricas de
la memoria global: un congreso de la Memory Waka / Arts and Rhetoric of Global
Memory: A Conference of Memory Waka, hosted in Argentina by Universidad de
Buenos Aires in April 2024, will be the next opportunity to explore the synergies
between the memory researchers of the three institutions. Alongside the
conference, artists of The Memory Waka Aotearoa New Zealand will be presenting
their moving image artworks in an exhibition titled, E huna ana i te tirohanga /
Hiding in plain sight / Oculto a plena vista at the Universidad de Buenos Aires’s
Cine Cosmos in Buenos Aires.

Published in association with Syracuse University (US) and
Universidad de Buenos Aires (ARG), Memory Connection Volume 4 comprises
nine selected articles developed from papers, most of which were presented at
the Memory: Sites, Trauma & Materiality / Memoria: Trauma, Sitios y Materialidad
online symposium.

The three articles by creative arts researchers from Massey University
respond to the theme of ‘hiding in plain sight.’ Raúl Ortega Ayala’s article,
“Montserrat (a phono-archaeology),” continues his longstanding investigation
of how societies and individuals remember, forget, or repress their past. His
phono-archaeology film project ‘rediscovers’ sonic heritage of the Caribbean
island of Monserrat found in recording studios, a radio station, and other sites
following the devastation on the island caused by the 1989 hurricane and
volcanic eruption in 1995.

“Ki te Titia Tāku Raukura: Should My Plume of Peace be Witnessed Quivering”
by Stuart Foster and Kura Puke with Inahaa Te Urutahi Waikerepuru, is written
against the backdrop of injustices inflicted on Māori, particularly in Taranaki
and the peaceful Parihaka settlement, by the 19th century colonial government
in Aotearoa New Zealand. The researchers use of indigenous knowledge modes
reveals the presence of Māori prisoners in caves in the southern city of Dunedin
where they were incarcerated by the government in the 19th century. In addition
to English and Spanish versions, Foster, Puke, and Waikerepuru’s article is
translated into te reo Māori, a first for the Memory Connection journal.

Kingsley Baird’s involvement in an indigenous repatriation project and the use
of a human skull as an anatomical reference in one of his current works, reignited
ethical concerns for the artist regarding the guardianship of human remains. His
article, “The exploitation, repatriation, and memorialisation of human remains:
An artist’s experiences,” discusses his personal engagement with human skeletal
remains in his artwork in relation to historical and contemporary conventions
concerning their use in cultural contexts.

Argentina’s contributions focus on memory in relation, on the one hand, to
the last military dictatorship that the country suffered (1976-1983), including the
problem of the disappeared, and, on the other, to the dictatorship of Francisco
Franco in Spain (1939-1975). This is not random since Argentina’s transition
towards democracy, and its memory policies regarding the dictatorship have
been the subject of comparative studies, such as what happened in Spain. In this
way, María Alejandra Vitale’s article studies dictatorial discursive memory in
documents preserved in an archive of repression open for public consultation.
Likewise, she contrasts this notion of discursive memory with public memory.
Soledad Catoggio analyzes a set of memorial processes linked to the phenomenon
of forensic identification and the restitution of the bodies of people who
disappeared during the last Argentine military dictatorship. She does this from
the narratives of sons and daughters who recovered their parents’ remains.
Finally, Adriana Minardi addresses the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) memorial
experience and the Franco dictatorship in six conferences by intellectuals and
writers in 1997 in Barcelona.

The loose collective known as the “Public Memory Project” began at Syracuse
University in 2001. Over the years the collaboration has convened numerous
symposia, published a few edited collections, and created a network of scholars,
artists and activists from across the University. While the Project has worked
with faculty from almost all of Syracuse’s schools and colleges, it has primarily
been anchored in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the relationship
between scholars of rhetoric and visual artists. This is, perhaps, not surprising.
Both the visual arts and rhetorical arts are intimately involved in the shaping
of our past. Documentaries, museums, monuments, portraits, and other visual
elements become the archive of our culture just as much the speeches and
writings that give voice to our stories of the past. Syracuse’s Public Memory
Project has existed, in part, to facilitate this on-going conversation about how
visual, written, and spoken arts continue to shape, contest, and reshape our sense
of the past and with it our imaginings of the future.

Fittingly, the three contributions to this issue of Memory Connection from
Syracuse are from scholars of rhetoric, Kendall Phillips and Charles E. Morris
III, and a renowned filmmaker, Alex Méndez Giner. Méndez Giner’s offering is a
poetic engagement with the memories of displacement and loss that are captured
in his video project, Displaced. Fragments in the diaspora. Phillips also engages
the question of loss and displacement by attending to the work of digital artists to
create new memorial landscapes through augmented reality. In his article, Morris
seeks to imagine the HIV/AIDS pandemic memory on a global archival scale and
proposes a consequence of this global memoryscape could be to decentralize U.S.
HIV/AIDS remembrance. Together, these three essays offer a glimpse of the scope
of work happening at Syracuse University.

The Memory Waka researchers wish to express our gratitude to
Massey University’s College of Creative Arts Toi Rauwhārangi and
to Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and the
University of Buenos Aires. Without the support of these institutions,
the present volume would not have been possible.