CFP: Emotion, affective practices and the past in the present

Call for Papers

Emotion, affective practices and the past in the present (descriptive working title)


To be published in Routledge’s Key Issues in Cultural Heritage series


Editors: Professor Laurajane Smith (ANU), Professor Margaret Wetherell (University of Auckland) and Gary Campbell (independent scholar)


We are looking for contributions to the above volume that speak to the use of emotion in contemporary engagements with the past, in contexts such as: heritage sites, museums, commemorations, historic reconstructions or re-enactments, political rhetoric and ideology, debates over issues of social memory, touristic uses of heritage sites, deindustrialisation and working class communities, emotion and the formation of historical consciousness, amongst others.

There has been a growing interest in how emotions are recruited, moulded and used in contemporary processes of drawing on the past to ‘do’ social, cultural and ideological work in the present (Bagnall 2003, Poria et al. 2003, Smith 2006, Witcomb 2013). How these and other authors have focussed on emotion and the past in the present are a counterpoint to what is generally discomfort, if not outright suspicion and hostility, to allowing issues of ‘unreliable’ emotion to ‘cloud’ how people ‘see’ and ‘use’ the ‘past’ (e.g. Lowenthal 1996, 2009).

Drawing on recent publications by Wetherell (2012) and Smith and Campbell (2015), we are looking for papers that show what Wetherell calls affective practice in operation. In other words, our focus on affect is pragmatic and practical. We are interested in the human work involved in making meaning through and with the past, as opposed to the eerie, the uncanny or with notionally pre-discursive ‘atmospheres’. Our concern is with how people perceive their embodied engagements, their narratives of emotional resonances and the ideological use of these to do political work in the present.

Examples might include how empathy, and its quiet cousin indifference, allow people to embrace, ignore or reject contentious representations of the past and present; or how ‘authenticity’ and ‘nostalgia’ are sentiments that serve social and political functions that are emotionally charged, and far more complex than attention to historical accuracy or maudlin recollection.


Submission: of 500 word abstracts to, by July 31st 2015.

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