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Uncomfortable Histories

The notions of “difficult heritage” and “uncomfortable history” are constantly being revisited in academic disciplines. But are there other ways in which we can engage, as academics, with these subjects?

Logan and Reeves (2011) argue that there is “growing interest in heritage associated with pain and shame at both international and national levels”. This is particularly evident in the growth of memory sites and memorial museums, many of which are classed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Difficult heritage concerns itself with a “past that is recognised as meaningful in the present but that it is also contested and awkward for public reconciliation with a positive and self-affirming contemporary identity” (Sharon Macdonald, 2008). History, memory and identity are closely intertwined; dealing with uncomfortable histories can challenge our notions of self, culture and identity.

In an era when the past is becoming increasingly tangible, Uncomfortable Histories: Artistic Responses invites scholars to consider an alternate way in which to approach their research topic in the form of art, poetry, film, photography and creative writing, in coordination with their own studies.

Often, dealing with difficult or uneasy topics within history- such as war, genocide, migration, race, identity, sexuality, gender- requires greater interaction with social and cultural issues, as well as heightened emotional awareness. Art practices can create a safe and open space through which to do so, whilst aimed at a broader audience and inviting wider public discussion.

The artistic responses will be presented in the form of an exhibition within the city of Nottingham from 4th to 26th May at the BACKLIT Gallery, with potential workshops and film screenings. Work presented in the exhibition will also be featured on the website.

Please visit our blog to discover more about this project. If you would like to contribute a blog post then please do not hesitate to contact us!

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