Afterlives: Rethinking the politics of loss and demise

Link: Caram Website


Afterlives appear in manifold ways. From deceased ancestors and celebrated martyrs, over decaying ruins and material remains, to past ideologies and bygone moral orders: even after their actual life time, persons, things and ideas often retain a presence in the here-and-now, posing vital questions about time, justice and social order. This interdisciplinary, one-day symposium seeks to explore how, when and why afterlives become activated, where they draw their potency from and how they constitute social and political communities.

Much popular discourse and scholarly thought has approached the lingering presence of the past in the here-and-now through the notion of memory. As a concept, however, memory remains problematically tied to an understanding of temporality as linear progression within a frame of secular immanence. By contrast, in this symposium we want to investigate afterlife as a concept that brings into view manifestations of the past that defy linear imaginations of time, question the prevalence of this-worldly presence and become articulated through complex human-non-human assemblages.

Contributions will explore how afterlives are made and unmade through material and immaterial means and how their affective and sensual reverberations shape social and political worlds. We are particularly interested in how afterlives, as they draw death, loss and demise into the present, raise potentially troubling questions about social justice and retribution, engendering fields of intense political contestation. By investigating how afterlives exert claims on the living in this way and to what effect, our aim is to rethink the politics of loss and demise beyond the strictures of this-worldly presentism.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Prof. Nancy Rose Hunt (University of Florida) 

WITH: Kinda Chaib, Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins, Ciçek İlengiz, Rachel Lehr, Ruth Mandel, Adeline Masquelier, Chris Moffat, Tanja Petrović, Erol Sağlam, Marlene Schäfers

Download the complete program here 


This symposium is funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Ghent University’s Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, the Middle East and North Africa Research Group (MENARG) and the Centre for Anthropological Research on Affect and Materiality (CARAM).