Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts

Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts

A joint UK-France research project documenting historical experiences of disruption and recovery in post-conflict and post-colonial contexts.

Project background

Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts contributes a cross-disciplinary analysis and cross-case synthesis of experience and memory in post-conflict and postcolonial contexts. Case-research, conducted from disciplinary bases in anthropology and history, interrogates relationships between oral histories and amateur histories with more formal written archives and historiography in a series of disrupted settings.

This case-study research is complemented by systematic cross-case engagement, synthesis, theorisation and communication of case-study research, conducted through regular meetings of our core research team, a larger research workshop, and presentation to the broader AHRC-LABEX Pasp network.

In the postconflict and colonial contexts of our cases, ‘disruption’ is present in three senses:

  • as the productive ways in which multiple experiences retrieved through oral histories may refract and revise historical analysis;
  • as the happening histories of objectively disruptive events break the flow of individual and collective experience;
  • and as a strategy for cross-disciplinary research to disrupt and democratise conventional understanding by drawing attention to occluded experiences.

‘Recovery’ is also polysemic, invoking retrieval of past experiences, and the possibility for enhanced well-being, through voicing memories that may have been suppressed and attending to mismatches between public discourse about displaced groups and individual experience.

Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts looks at the following cases/examples:

  • Evictions in colonial and apartheid west Namibia;
  • Memories and historical interpretations of the Egyptian Jewish diaspora;
  • War-time evacuation in France;
  • Recent maritime exodus of migrants from Africa;
  • Portuguese migrant subjectivities in post-colonial Angola.

Project team

  • Sian Sullivan, Principal Investigator (UK), Bath Spa University
  • Michèle Baussant, Principal Investigator (France), CNRS / Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense
  • Lindsey Dodd, Co-investigator (UK), University of Huddersfield
  • Olivette Otele, Co-investigator (UK), Bath Spa University (former)
  • Irene Dos Santos, Co-investigator (France), CNRS /Unité de Recherche Migrations et Société-URMIS

Project partners

Basler Afrika Bibliographien; Namibia Resources Centre – Southern Africa Library, SWZ; Archives Municipales de Boulogne-Billancourt, FR; Archives Départementales de la Creuse, FR; South East Wales Regional Equality Council, UK; University of East London, Library and Learning Services: Archives, UK.

Credit: Sian Sullivan

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