Segalo, Puleng, Einat Manoff, Michelle Fine. “Working With Embroideries and Counter-Maps: Engaging Memory and Imagination Within Decolonizing Frameworks.” Journal of Social and Political Psychology 3.1 (2015).
As people around the world continue to have their voices, desires, and movements restricted, and their pasts and futures told on their behalf, we are interested in the critical project of decolonizing, which involves contesting dominant narratives and hegemonic representations. Ignacio Martín-Baró called these the “collective lies” told about people and politics. This essay reflects within and across two sites of injustice, located in Israel/Palestine and in South Africa, to excavate the circuits of structural violence, internalized colonization and possible reworking of those toward resistance that can be revealed within the stubborn particulars of place, history, and culture. The projects presented here are locally rooted, site-specific inquiries into contexts that bear the brunt of colonialism, dispossession, and occupation. Using visual research methodologies such as embroideries that produce counter-narratives and counter-maps that divulge the complexity of land-struggles, we search for fitting research practices that amplify unheard voices and excavate the social psychological soil that grows critical analysis and resistance. We discuss here the practices and dilemmas of doing decolonial research and highlight the need for research that excavates the specifics of a historical material context and produces evidence of previously silenced narratives.
This article examines a strategy of peace activism that gained visibility in the last decades: memory activism. Memory activists manifest a temporal shift in transnational politics: first the past, then the future. Affiliated with the globally-circulating paradigm of historical justice, memory activist groups assume that a new understanding of the past could lead to a new perception of present problems and project alternative solutions for the future. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and discourse analysis among memory activists of the 1948 war in Israel since 2001, the article examines the activist production of counter-memory during active conflict. Using Coy et al.’s typology of oppositional knowledge-production, the article shows how the largest group of memory activism in Israel produced ‘new’ information on the war, critically assessed the dominant historical narrative, offered an alternative shared narrative, and began to envision practical solutions for Palestinian refugees. However, the analysis raises additional concerns that reach beyond the scope of the typology, primarily regarding the unequal power relations that exist not only between the dominant and activist production of oppositional knowledge, but also among activists.