Memory Studies in East Asia–cfp

Call for Abstracts: Proposed Special Journal Issue on Memory Studies in East Asia
By Mary M. McCarthy

East Asia (defined here as comprised of Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia) is a region ripe for exploration of the role of memory in a non-Western context. It is a region of post-colonial and post-conflict societies that have struggled with and addressed myriad issues related to transitional justice, memorialization, commemoration, and reconciliation both within borders and across them. It contains examples of both historical justice achieved and memory “wars” ongoing; mnemonic practices that are unique to their local context and those that are translatable to other countries or regions.

Yet, despite the richness of this region for an exploration of these issues, the field of memory studies, which was originally developed in European and Holocaust studies, has yet to fully integrate what Asian perspectives can bring to the field. Asian studies can inform and transform the field of memory studies, with its insights and lessons, as well as new theoretical and methodological approaches.

Acknowledging the important role that Asian case studies and Asian perspectives can and must play in this nascent field, the Memory Studies Association will hold their 6th annual conference in Seoul, July 3-8, 2022. In anticipation of this event, I seek to create a special journal issue on memory studies in East Asia, the contents of which will be proposed for presentation at the conference. This is an opportunity for those of us working in this field to publicize and promote new and cutting-edge research in East Asian memory studies, while also networking and exchanging ideas to deepen and expand our own scholarship. (Participation in the Seoul conference is not required for inclusion in the special issue).

This interdisciplinary special journal issue seeks contributions from scholars across any relevant academic field, including but not limited to anthropology, art and architectural history, cultural studies, heritage studies, history, ethics, gender studies, literature, memory studies, museum studies, peace and transitional justice studies, political science, and sociology. I seek authors from across Asia, as well as those outside Asia who are working in East Asian studies (Northeast and/or Southeast Asia).

Authors may apply existing models or theoretical paradigms to Asian cases or introduce new approaches created through their Asian case studies.

Topics explored may include …

  • The political and social structures that shape public remembering and forgetting
  • How local and transnational identities are created through memory
  • The role of memory in transitional justice in post-conflict societies
  • The commemoration of traumatic history through the creative arts
  • Emerging uses of technology in commemoration
  • The role of memory tourism in memorialization and reconciliation efforts
  • Post-colonial reclamation and re-imaginings of the past
  • Revitalization of indigenous communities through memory
  • Monuments, memorials, and other memory markers
  • Memory activism
  • The geopolitics of contested histories

These are only some of the potential areas for investigation. All theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological issues integral to the study of memory in East Asia will be considered, with a goal of geographical and topical breadth. I am particularly interested in approaches that integrate a postcolonial, subaltern, feminist, or other critical perspective into their analysis.

Please send abstracts (200 words) to Dr. Mary M. McCarthy ( by August 31, 2021.

I will let you know if your abstract has been accepted by the end of September and then first drafts of the articles will be due before January 31, 2022. Articles should be 6000-7000 words.

Mary M. McCarthy, Ph.D.
Professor of Politics and International Relations
Department of Political Science
Drake University

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