Call for Abstracts

Traces of the past: between experiences and spatial imaginations


Congress of the International Geographical Union (IGU) 18-22 July 2022


Description of the session

Certain spatial configurations or spaces of identification of the past continue to exist after the dissolution of the geopolitical order that produced them. People already born in a united Germany affiliate themselves as East Germans and connect to certain values they consider East German because their parents grew up in the GDR and educated them that way. Homo Soveticus is considered a type of person that adheres to the dissolved Soviet Union and having a certain mind-set. Russian political elites are (re)creating a historical spatial imagination of Novorossiya to give reason to the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in the Donbas while Ukrainians in Lviv see themselves as a post-Habsburg society.

The creation and proliferation of contemporary imaginatives and narratives based on past political orders and motives, traditionally a domain mostly of elitist groups, is now fostered by certain subversive milieus as well. “Ordinary” people, too, continue individual practices and transfer experiences and knowledge that they link to past societal orders they experienced themselves or they wish for the future. In all these and similar cases, the references of the past are constructed in specific ways, and they are imbued with specific, at times contradictory significations, meanings and consequences.

What role does the memory of past territorial entities, as states, empires, but also the memory of geopolitical ruptures, such as wars and conflicts, play in the present forms and shaping of spaces and places? What role does the experience of fundamental system change play for the individual and his/her experiences? Which imaginations, practices, or routines are particularly strong? Why are certain spatial imaginations as the GDR or Soviet Union or other spatial shapes as regions strong and other not? What role do sub-regional administrative b/orders play? Who are the actors involved? How does the context contribute to the revival of past images? How does intergenerational knowledge transfer contribute to it? In what relations or what entanglements enter public or elitist historical narratives, memory constructs and practices in individuals or smaller collectives like families?

In this session we would like to discuss different elements that are part of the reconfiguration of places, namely two are in our focus:

  1. The contribution of memories, experiences and inherited routines to the understanding and shaping of spaces, be it a home, a region, or others.
  2. The role of spatial imaginations that relate to past b/orders in the re-configuration of place and space. Finally, how are they interlinked?

Abstract Submission Deadline: January 11, 2022

Submission guidelines

Please follow Instructions below for writing your abstract in the submission form: Title: maximum of 255 characteres (spaces included)

  • Resume: Text should be a maximum of 2000 characters (spaces included)
  • Keywords: maximum of 5
  • References: maximum of 5