Timescapes: pasts, presents and futures

Rachel Hurdley, Bella Dicks and Kate Moles

This panel session invites papers about ways of doing history, memory and loss. Material objects are routinely placed on display using ‘museal’ devices (including display cabinets, plinths, mantelpieces, shelves, preserved buildings, installations, etc.). These express a temporal relation (of past, present ands future) between objects, people and times. Displays are made for present purposes, but draw on particular cultural concepts shaping ‘the past’ and ‘the future’.

When museums, public parks, urban streets, theme parks and heritage sites place items on display, public value becomes attached to this temporal landscape (e.g. ideas of progress, history, collective identity, loss, roots, tradition, change, flux and memory). At home, these collective temporal cultures intertwine with autobiography, family history and domestic identity work. Decay, ruin, acts of forgetting, and new ‘dementia-friendly’ public spaces highlight the complex processes of producing, maintaining, repairing and losing (or destroying) memory. Whereas display practices often raise, frame and separate objects of memory, others bring them close in affective, multisensory, narrative and/or dramaturgic performances.

We invite papers exploring the ways in which ethnography can illuminate, question and describe these practices.

Please submit a 500 word abstract or proposal by Tuesday 28th February 2017.