This talk considers the ways in which people currently involved in political action in Athens think about the Polytechnic Uprising of 1973. The uprising is an event which is memorialised annually, and part of the dominant narrative of collective history surrounding post-dictatorship Greek 'democracy' and resistance. This talk will focus on the importance of temporality in exploring the ways in which the past acts as a resource for current action, through memory, myth and embodied performances. It will also touch upon the ways in which the position of the uprising within the landscape of political action, has changed over the years; the how it has been embedded in different public discourses and part of the political system that is currently being contested.
Miranda is a Sociology MPhil student at Goldsmiths, looking at how people talk about political subjectivity through participation in memorialised violent events of the past, and how these events are talked about today by people involved in political action.
Laurel Mackenzie (RMIT)
In this paper I speak to the interrelation of subjectivity and time, asking “what is the effect of the indefinite length of detention on how asylum seekers construct their identities in Australia?” Goffman describes the reduction of strategies of self-preservation available to the inmates of asylums such as mental institutions and prisons. The ways in which people on the ‘outside’ can offer subtle resistance to unpleasant tasks, by evincing sullenness of expression, muttered comments, and so on, reminiscent of the everyday forms of peasant resistance described by Scott (1987) is more closely monitored inside a total institution (Goffman 1961, p. 41). The importance of effecting small forms of resistance becomes magnified as a method of retaining some degree of autonomy. This analysis sheds light on the behaviour of one man I was visiting in detention. In order to effect the slight feeling of autonomy afforded by minor resistances, he no longer participated in what Goffman calls removal activities, activities such as excursions, field games and the like, which are intended to make the inmate oblivious for a time to the inexorable passage of institutional time. However Goffman’s comment on removal activities “if the ordinary activities in total institutions can be said to torture time, these activities mercifully kill it” (p. 67), relies on an assumption that the inmates know when they will be released. The sometimes hourly count of time until their release date is unavailable to asylum seekers in detention. This opens up to critical theorising the relation between subjectivity and time, through Grosz’s critical re-understandings of the relation between the two that show clearly that the two are bound up in each other (Grosz 2005).
Laurel Mackenzie is a PhD candidate writing on the question of how refugees and asylum seekers in Australia construct their identities, using a narrative research methodology that relies on an intersubjective approach to the hermeneutic phenomenological analysis of interviews with research participants. She currently works as an associate Lecturer in RMIT's School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, teaching an undergraduate course in social constructionism. Her research interests include Critical Theory, Gender Studies, Post colonialism, Phenomenology, and Language and Identity.
Ed Hollis (Edinburgh College of Art)
The interiors of Versailles have long been subjected to a regime that aims to restore them to their state on the eve of the French Revolution; but in 2011, an exhibition disrupted their temporal singularity. Imagining that Versailles was still the seat of state, the apartments were furnished with contemporary pieces from the Mobilier National (the descendant of the original Garde Meuble du Roi). The exhibition was greeted as if a blasphemy had been committed against rooms whose history had, supposedly, ended once their royal occupants had left them. Visit any museum of design, and you will come across ‘period rooms’. Interiors variously ripped from medieval castles or modern flats are furnished with objects from the same era and presented as monuments to the spirit of their respective ages. It is a paradox, for if real rooms were like period interiors, nothing would survive from the past to exhibit today. More usually, rooms occupy buildings and are filled with furnishings which are older – or newer - than they are. This paper will argue that interiors are constructed conversations between the present and the past in which, like the memory palaces discussed by Frances Yates, objects carefully arranged remind their occupants what rhetorical stance to adopt. This paper will also argue that the ars memoriae is in itself in flux: the same antiques and rooms are used and arranged differently today, for example, than they were a century ago, and encode differing notions of memory. The 2011 refurnishing of Versailles formed an assault on conventional modes of history, conducted in cushions and curtains. This paper will argue that we all engage in such exercises all the time, and explore the encoding of time in the domestic interiors of which the palace of Versailles is merely a rhetorical amplification.
Edward Hollis studied Architecture at Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities. For the subsequent six years he practiced as an Architect. He worked first in Sri Lanka, in the practice of Geoffrey Bawa, at that time the ‘grand old man’ of Sri Lankan Architecture, famous for his garden of follies and ruins at Lunuganga; and then in the practice of Richard Murphy, well known for his radical alterations to ancient and historic buildings in and around Edinburgh.
In 1999, Edward Hollis began lecturing in Interior Architecture at Napier University, Edinburgh, working with students both in the design studio, and in more theoretical disciplines. In 2004, he moved to Edinburgh College of Art, where he is now deputy director of research.
Working with follies and ruins in Sri Lanka, with modern interventions to historic buildings in Scotland, and in the slippery discipline of Interiors, has focussed Edward’s theoretical thinking on the notion of time, story, and building.
He is involved with current plans to revive the ruins of Gillespie Kidd and Coia’s seminary at Cardross. His first book, ‘The Secret Lives of Buildings’: a collection folk tales stories about mythical buildings was published in 2009; and he is currently writing ‘The Memory Palace’ a book of lost Interiors, due for publication in 2013.
Keywords: architecture, interiors, historiography, narrative
from our workshop on Power, Time and Agency held in Manchester, January 2013