Our dual concern at the Cultural Identity and Memory Studies Institute (CIMS) is to explore cultural identity and cultural memory: that is, the investigation of the diverse textual constructs and creations (e.g. traditions, myths, literary canons, and political institutions) by which national and other cultural groups represent, criticise, renew and repurpose their sense of identity and memory.

Upcoming events

CIMS Research Seminar

Global Fellow Professor Shelleen Greene (UCLA):Prosthetic Performances: Technologies of the Black Mutative Body

Tuesday February 20, 4-6pm

Seminar room 1, Younger Hall

In this presentation, Professor Greene will explore surgical, prosthetic and digital performance as an aesthetics of mutation in both mainstream and experimental black art practice. As Marquard Smilth and Joanne Morra argue, prosthesis, an artificial replacement or augmentation to the body, has become a primary metaphor in discourses ranging from post-humanism, cultural studies, and new media theory in the analysis of “interactions in general between the body and technology in modernity”.

Specifically, Professor Greene will examine the posthumous performances and afterlives of Michael Jackson, through his ‘holographic’ appearance at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, a spectacle which has its origins in the 19th century pre-cinematic Pepper’s Ghost illusion. Exploring the overlap between the racial and digital “uncanny valley”, Professor Greene contextualizes the performance within a broader history of the artist’s controversial cosmetic transformation and emergent visual media technologies of the early 1990s, such as digital morphing and other computer-generated imagery (CGI).

As a further meditation on somatic mutation, Professor Greene will turn to the Teddy Perkins episode of season two of the US television programme Atlanta (FX, from 2016). The episode’s titular character references Michael Jackson and offers a reflection upon trauma as manifested through epidermal transformation. These prosthetic performances comment upon the black body as mutative, in flex, moving from stable to contingent, from fixed to partiality. Professor Greene argues that, while these performances can be read as indexical of the intersections of race, gender, science and technology, they are also indicative of the continued commoditization of black bodies.

CIMS Seminar in the Environmental Humanities

Dr Avishek Parui (IIT Madras): ‘Memory, Narrative, and Ecology: Interdisciplinary Perspectives’

Thursday February 22, 4-6pm

Seminar room 1, Younger Hall

This talk will examine the triangulation of memory, narrative, and ecology from an interdisciplinary position of psychology, literature, and cultural studies. It will engage with the ontological condition of memory-ecology, particularly in a post-digital world and connect that to the various vectors of remembering and storytelling that are emergent as well as connective in quality. Drawing on some recent research in neuroscience on the interactive brain, the talk will attempt to articulate how such interactivity corresponds to the interaffective modes of memory and narrativity in post-digital ecology. The talk will conclude with a description of the AR/VR app MovingMemory conceptualised and developed at the Centre for Memory Studies Indian Institute of Technology Madras.





We warmly welcome staff and students from any discipline who would like to get involved.

Follow us on Twitter: @StCims

Email us via [email protected]