RECLAIMING JUSTICE: MEMORY AND MEMORIALIZATION OF VIOLENCE
In October 2019, the Remembering and Memorializing Violence: Transnational Feminist Dialogues project co-sponsored an international conference at the University of Toronto with Equity Studies at New College, University of Toronto and the Decolonization, Social Movements and Performance in the Caribbean and Canada: 1968-1988 workshop at York University. The conference allowed scholars, artists and activists to dialogue about critical transnational feminist theoretical engagements with memory and memorialization, highlighting the legacies and continuities of colonialism.
Chowra Makaremi, Research Fellow at CNRS Paris, commented on the following subject.
Filming disappearance: account of a visual battle
Hitch. An Iranian history is a documentary movie project led in 2015-2019.
Based on a longer-term work using auto-fiction, visual anthropology and the anthropology of violence, the movie looks at State violence in post-revolution Iran, counter-memories of violence and politics of denial. It falls within methodological discussions on how to investigate on mass violence by looking at the imbrication of the intimate and political spheres.
The movie documents a family history of political disappearances and executions in Iran in the 1980s, and its memorialization through different frames of denial within the country and exile. State violence in Iran has left little trace: bodies have disappeared, graves and mass graves have been destroyed, silence still prevails. The movie does not proceed as a “fact finding” enterprise in order to shed light on this suppressed history of violence. What it “investigates” is the production and sealing of silence, denial as a cognitive and emotional experience. These realities are sketched backwards since the investigation starts from the traces left.
In this presentation, I will reflect back on how this movie project has turned into a visual battle, as the traces I was filming in Iran were being destroyed, and the characters in the movie withdrawing their testimonies. As a consequence of the very politics of denial I wanted to unravel, the images I produced were literally disappearing before I can turn them into a movie. Then, the practical question of how to proceed, and how to finish after all becomes a very political one.