Timor-Leste, neighborhood destroyed in internal violence, April 2006.

Timor-Leste, neighborhood destroyed in internal violence, April 2006.

On the occasion of Texas Performing Arts' presentation of the National Theatre of Scotland's award-winning theatre piece, Black Watch, the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice is planning its seventh annual conference, to take place on February 17-18, 2011. The conference is free and open to the public. Registration is strongly encouraged.

This multidisciplinary conference is designed to coincide with performances of The National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch at the University of Texas, an award-winning play written by Scottish playwright Gregory Burke. The play is based on actual interviews with Scottish soldiers from the Black Watch regiment who were deployed to fight in Iraq in 2003. The Black Watch is one of the oldest regiments in British history, participating for nearly three hundred years in the British imperial project. For centuries, its members have been recruited from the heart of the Scottish working class in Perthshire, Fife, and Angus. The play invites audiences to analyze the complex realities of conflict and its aftermath on all sides, imperial/colonial violence, and the contradictory and complicated ways that colonial histories are reconfigured and reproduced in the 21st century.

Aftershocks: Legacies of Conflict will bring together scholars, activists, performance artists and journalists to explore some of the same intersections of violence, the colonial past, memory, and trauma that Black Watch invokes, as well as the unique role that performance might play in the analysis. It will consider these issues in a variety of geographic spaces and places, with a special emphasis on the legal and political regimes that are meant to preserve memory while also transitioning into post-conflict.

Panels for the conference will be organized around some of the themes addressed in or raised by the play.  Participants will be asked to consider the extent to which they resonate with their own work—from various disciplines and mediums, and on conflicts in places as varied as Guatemala, South Africa, the Balkans and Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel and Palestine. 

We seek to address some of the following questions: 

  • When do conflicts become “post” and how are their aftershocks felt in different places?
  • Why are international regimes empowered to address conflict and post-conflict situations primarily focused on the physical sites of conflict rather than on historical and contemporary sources of intervention?
  • How might the “official” end of a conflict and emergence of processes to address violations of human rights obscure the multiple ways that violence continues to play out, including through the construction and maintenance of particularly marginalized communities?
  • How do different forms of domestic and international post-conflict governance make sense of and assess responsibility for the aftershocks of various kinds of violence (displacement, genocide, civil war, systematic gender violence, economic and ecological destruction) and the specific kinds of individual and collective trauma they produce?
  • How is social memory mobilized by various social actors (intellectuals, artists, lawyers, activists, writers, journalists) to contest the dominant discourses of the past, the elision of the legacies of colonialism, and the nature of violent conflict?
  • Can we imagine a future—beyond “post-conflict”?

The event is co-sponsored by Texas Performing Arts, the Humanities Institute, the Center for Women's and Gender Studies, UT Libraries, the South Asia Institute, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, Performance as Public Practice, British Studies, and the Kozmetsky Center of Excellence in Global Finance (at St. Edward's University).