Individuals act as their own historians, suppressing some stories and emphasizing others. But at the scale of nations and cultures, and especially in this age of ubiquitous digital memory, it has become more difficult to forget. Building on questions about history and its uses, raised by exhibitions like Educating Architects: Four Courses by Kenneth Frampton and Besides, History: Go Hasegawa, Kersten Geers, David Van Severen, we invite special guests like Evgeny Morozov, Craig Hodgetts, and Johannes Grenzfurthner to propose acts of mass amnesia—precise and universal erasures of a place, person, or idea from our collective memory. What forces might be let loose, and what new ideas could emerge from fruitful forgetting?
Sophia Roosth is the Frederick S. Danziger Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. Her research focuses on how biology is changing at a moment when researchers build new biological systems in order to investigate how biology works. She is the author of Synthetic: How Life Got Made, which asks what happens to “life” as a conceptual category when experimentation and fabrication converge, and is currently working on The Quick and the Dead, which offers a historically and ethnographically informed travelogue into the worlds of contemporary geobiologists—scientists seeking ancient microbial life forms fossilized in stone.
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