HRC 2023 Annual Theme – REPAIR
The founding idea for the HRC’s annual theme for 2023 is ‘Repair’. It comes from Yuliya Komska, who, reflecting on her father’s stained glass creations in Lviv, Ukraine in 2022, wrote: ‘In war, mourning the loss of art, be it actual or anticipated, is not separate from mourning for the senseless disruption and destruction of human life. To live is to build, to repair, to illuminate, to leave traces in the fabric of time and space.’  In more quotidian contexts, the concept and actions of repair – to ’restore by replacing a part or putting together what is torn or broken: to FIX’ [‘make firm, stable or stationary’] – is prevalent in global humanities thinking and world cultures. '
Tied to ideas about sustainability and economic and environmental concerns, and crucial for rebuilding communities, lives and livelihoods after crisis or ruptures in time or political security, ‘repair’ is an oft-cited antidote to post-war western obsessions with commodification and newness, fast-food, fashion and cosmetic procedures, cheap labour, and the erstwhile rationale for disposal as a means to ‘spark joy’. And yet, things don’t need to be broken to be renewed in order to re-enter into social circulation or to be attributed new or different forms of meaning and significance.
This year’s theme invites reflection on all aspects of ‘repair’, including the cultures, politics, experiences, practices, logistics, implications, and representation of repair as an urgent and necessary part of contemporary life across a globe beset by war, environmental degradation, poverty, and authoritarianism.
Contributions may be related to environmental, medical, economic humanities; development studies; museum, memory, material culture and heritage studies; visual, literary and historical studies; sociology, linguistics, and language studies; creative practice, and beyond. We welcome critical explorations of literary and cultural practices that seek to repair the disruptions imposed on colonised peoples.
We particularly encourage investigation of the complex forms of ‘repair’ for First Nations peoples and communities, that might include ‘repatriation’ and, or, conservation, but also engages with the issues of the rewriting or white-washing of history and the denial of historical experience. In the final instance, we seek proposals that consider the experiences, potentials, and challenges for ‘repair’ in our complex world historically and into the future.
Together, we will spend time unpacking the reality that not all things require fixing or renewal and that transformation occurs in uneven ways. We will think deeply about the reality of the creative connections between production and repair in different times, places, and contexts, and through different disciplinary fields, lenses, and lines of enquiry.
To further propel thinking and creativity around the idea of “repair”, this year the HRC is composing a poem that visiting fellows will be invited to contribute to. The first two stanzas by the HRC’s Kim Huynh are below. Updated versions will be presented at the HRC Work in Progress Seminars and in the HRC newsletter.
cause we’ve been through
the wars and know
from constant disruption
glossy museums and malls
that nothing lasts
so by repair
we mean seeking
crafting tiny let
there be moments
and trusting together
that she’ll be right
See here for information on applications for the 2023 Humanities Research Centre Visiting Fellowship Program – on the theme of ''Repair'