Contested/ing (Art) Histories: Memory Through Visual and Material Culture

Online conference for PhD students

Conference Date: Thursday, 7 November 2024

Deadline: Sunday, 1 September 2024

Traditional historical narratives often present a singular perspective, neglecting the multifaceted nature of the past. This approach overlooks the contested nature of history, where various experiences vie for recognition. “Contested/ing (Art) Histories: Memory Through Visual and Material Culture” delves into this complexity, exploring how visual art and material objects act as sites of memory, memorialisation, and remembrance.

This conference seeks to explore how visual and material culture shape our understanding of the past. This call encourages critical engagement with diverse perspectives, ethical considerations, and the potential of artistic interventions to challenge dominant historical narratives from post-colonial and de-colonial perspectives.

Keynote Speaker:

Tanvi Mishra, Independent Photo Editor, Curator, and Writer

The key questions addressed by this conference include:

  • How do diverse perspectives and experiences influence historical narratives within the arts?
  • How can visual and material culture challenge or reinforce dominant historical accounts?
  • What are the ethical considerations in using and interpreting visual and material culture for historical research?
  • In what ways can artistic interventions act as sites for memory-making and contesting official narratives?
  • How do we tend to the silences and gaps in official narratives?

Who is this for?

This year’s Global New Voices invites proposals from PhD students in any stage of their research, exploring the theme over any historical period or geographic region. We welcome submissions from international scholars and practice-researchers to open a dynamic discussion about the similarities, divergences and interconnectivity of contested histories taking place around the world. We particularly welcome talks which integrate digital technologies with the featured themes.

We invite proposals in any of the following three formats:

  • 15-minute paper presentations: Papers focusing on the idea of contested histories through material or visual thinking in a wide variety of contexts.
  • Pecha Kucha presentations: 20 images with a limited time (20 seconds) commentary on each slide. The aim is a swift, visually-led presentation that is succinct and powerful. Click here to learn more about the Pecha Kucha format.
  • Curatorial and artist showcase: Artists, curators, and image-makers to share their practice – this consists of approximately 5-10 minutes of viewing the work (shared online) followed by discussion and constructive feedback. We welcome submission from artists and curators working in any medium which contains a strong visual element.

Potential themes are outlined below, but we encourage experimental and novel approaches:

  • Colonial and postcolonial experiences in visual art and museum collections
  • Gender and sexuality in Orientalist representations
  • Gender-based violence in Colonial or post-Colonial settings
  • Indigenous perspectives and histories
  • The role of digital technologies in shaping historical narratives
  • The ethics of collecting and exhibiting objects with contested histories
  • The use of visual and material culture in memory activism
  • Legacy of Empire in all its forms
  • Colonialism and civil wars in visual culture
  • Experiences of incarceration or/and silencing
  • Visual renditions related to the question: who owns the past?
  • Objects as carriers of memory
  • Silenced and unsilenced narratives

When and where will this conference take place?

Online, ensuring an international platform for inclusive, enriching, and creative discussion.

This year, the conference will take place over a day, Thursday 7 November 2024, with coffee and lunch breaks for down-time.

How to apply and when is the deadline?

Proposals and abstracts of no more than 250 words, along with a 100-word biography, should be sent to by 11:59 pm GMT on Sunday 1 September 2024. Notifications of acceptance and rejection will be sent out by Monday 16 September.

Please let us know in the email subject if you are proposing a paper, a Pecha Kucha, or curatorial and artist showcase.

Please state which country / time zones you will be participating from to facilitate our programming.

Finally, please indicate whether you agree for your session to be recorded. We will be uploading the conference (or as much as is feasible), to the AAH YouTube channel.

For more information, contact the organisers: Alia Soliman, Sean Cham, and Olivia Garro at


Photo credit : Tanvi Mishra – installation view of the exhibition “Moving Definitions: an invitation to re-view” curated by Tanvi Mishra for the Louis Roederer Discovery Award 2023 at Rencontres D’ Arles.

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