War and conflict cast shadows, create residues and bequeath legacies long after the violence has ended. In the time afterwards, 'post-war' and 'post-conflict' cultures grapple with what is past but still present, through work of remembering and forgetting, making sense and keeping silence, reconstruction and destruction. For such cultures, 'dealing with the past' involves the representation of memory and its political contestation on the basis of present-day interests and desires, often oriented towards imagined futures.
Focusing on Ireland and Britain, South Africa and Palestine/Israel, this lecture analyses some key dimensions and dynamics of cultures in post-war and post-conflict times. It reflects on the history of Professor Dawson's engagement with these issues as a researcher, and explores ways in which his research questions and approaches have been, in part, responses to his own and his family's historical experience of war and conflict in Britain during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
The value of Historical Cultural Studies, he will argue, lies precisely in its capacity to illuminate through scholarship the textures of memory, meaning and affect within lived cultures, experience and politics.