Memory, Space & Place WG | Memory, Activism and Social Justice NUBS 4.20
Jul 04, 2023 15:45 - 17:15(Europe/London)
20230704T1545 20230704T1715 Europe/London 2.19. Memory in Sight, Memory on Site: Commemoration in Place

Interpretation and representation of the past is constructed and restructured over time through the dynamic interplay of history, politics, memory, and space. Sites of memory like memorials, monuments, and museums illustrate how official commemoration and counter-memories shape both individual and collective relationship to the past in public space. Whether examining the ideological aims of public commemorative activity, the logic of its design and display, or the perspective of community participation and audience, the place and placement of memorial sites matters. This panel will explore the complexities of commemorative sites through case studies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mexico, and the United States.When public representations of the past address national, regional, or local history and memory, official commemorative sites and activities may co-exist with alternative-- even opposing--efforts at the grassroots level. How are local, regional, and national histories commemorated and linked? What does the dynamic tell us about ongoing processes to bind collective identity and create national community? What role do grassroots and community initiatives play in representing alternative perspectives, if not counter memories? The case studies in this panel will consider the intended ideological purposes and tensions behind these often-contested commemorative sites and the educational opportunities and potential for restorative truth-seeking these interventions offer in their respective locations.

Robin Maria DeLuganInspiring National Memory Through Local and Regional Memory ConstellationsWhen studying ongoing transformations of national history and memory, public representations of "the national" tend to inhabit the capital city through official museums, monument ...

NUBS 4.20 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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Interpretation and representation of the past is constructed and restructured over time through the dynamic interplay of history, politics, memory, and space. Sites of memory like memorials, monuments, and museums illustrate how official commemoration and counter-memories shape both individual and collective relationship to the past in public space. Whether examining the ideological aims of public commemorative activity, the logic of its design and display, or the perspective of community participation and audience, the place and placement of memorial sites matters. This panel will explore the complexities of commemorative sites through case studies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mexico, and the United States.

When public representations of the past address national, regional, or local history and memory, official commemorative sites and activities may co-exist with alternative-- even opposing--efforts at the grassroots level. How are local, regional, and national histories commemorated and linked? What does the dynamic tell us about ongoing processes to bind collective identity and create national community? What role do grassroots and community initiatives play in representing alternative perspectives, if not counter memories? The case studies in this panel will consider the intended ideological purposes and tensions behind these often-contested commemorative sites and the educational opportunities and potential for restorative truth-seeking these interventions offer in their respective locations.



Robin Maria DeLugan

Inspiring National Memory Through Local and Regional Memory Constellations

When studying ongoing transformations of national history and memory, public representations of "the national" tend to inhabit the capital city through official museums, monuments, and commemorative activities. Nevertheless, consequential national events often have their roots in particular places far from the nation's capital. How are local, regional, and national histories commemorated and linked? What does the dynamic tell us about the ongoing process of nation building-namely the important project of binding citizens to the nation's past, present and future and to a sense of belonging?
My presentation will offer preliminary thoughts about the public memory constellations that link local, regional, and national histories. Focusing on some public historical memory sites in Alabama (Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma); Atlanta, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Greensboro, North Carolina and Washington DC about the legendary struggles for Civil Rights in the U.S. South (1950-60s), I will illustrate, for example, ways that local sites signal the national through naming, aspiration, and outreach practices. I will also comment on ways that the local sites enhance national history by recognizing social actors often in the shadows of more prominent "national" leaders. I reference areas for further research (such as intentionality to be in constellation, competition, resource sharing or disparities). Finally, I point to the relevance of this expanding regional memory constellation for a turbulent national society. With efforts afoot to roll back key civil rights victories, the lessons about the struggles and achievements in the U.S. South for national civil rights are needed now more than ever.


Sabina Tanovic

"Was That a Memorial?": Ambiguity as Potential in Places of Remembrance

This contribution focuses on Sarajevo's Second World War memorial site, the Vraca Memorial Park (Spomen-park Vraca), that inadvertently memorializes other difficult histories, namely the occupation by Austro-Hungarian empire (1878 – 1914) and the infamous Siege of Sarajevo (1992 – 1995). Known simply as "Vraca" – or a "small door" in Bosnian language – the memorial complex is layered with material and immaterial remnants of the past that speak of collectivity in both perpetratorship and resistance to forces of terror. Officially inaugurated in the last decade of the existence of Yugoslavia, the site renders palimpsests of history clearly readable and invites critical reflection on collective and individual remembrance in public space.

During the last three decades, "Vraca" has been stuck in limbo supported by different vectors of reality such as the general lack of consensus on war heritage and misappropriations of the site for dubious political agendas. However, in the recent years a number of more promising events are taking place and there is a nascent professional and scientific interest in the meaning of "Vraca" as an invaluable historical site and a collective public space, aiming to activate "Vraca" as a non-ambiguous hub for education and public activities.

This paper will explore conceptual design proposals and art practices that call for restauration of significance and re-activation of the site as both an attractive public space and space of remembrance to problematize and re-examine the very concept of "Vraca" as a memorial site and how it fits into the contemporary Bosnian and Herzegovinian culture of remembrance and co-remembrance.


Jill Strauss

Memory from the Margins: Virtual Memorials of the Lived Experience of East Harlem during the Covid Pandemic

Much of the literature in the humanities and social sciences suggests that memorialization is an important engagement process to document experiences and perspectives for posterity, for future generations. Even as everyone experienced the pandemic, people survived it - or did not - in different ways, depending on socio-economic background, access, and support. Part of the impetus for this project was to document the experiences of a population usually excluded from formal memorialization processes. The virtual memorials were created using Augmented Reality (AR) technology and are based on oral history interviews with residents of East Harlem, doctors and interpreters at the nearby Mount Sinai Hospital, and staff of the emergency food provider, New York Common Pantry. AR superimposes images on the real world to memorialize and validate these experiences in public art.

As commemoration efforts have evolved from celebrating individuals to memorializing shared experiences there has also been a shift to remembering more recent, and even evolving, occurrences in a timely way with the use of technology. While these virtual monuments transform the many pandemic related issues and challenges that New Yorkers responded to and had to overcome when New York City was the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic, they are meant to resonate across experiences. They are located in the public space around the Harlem Meer, a lake in the northeast corner of Central Park, chosen for its proximity to the storytellers' homes and work sites as well as for its beauty. The presentation will discuss the virtual memorials and how storytellers and the general public responded to them.


Ulrike Capdepón

Claiming the Presence of the Disappeared.

The Glorieta de los Desaparecidos in Guadalajara and Mexico City as sites of Re-signification in Urban Space

As a consequence of the spiral of violence sparked by the "war on drugs" and the ongoing crime crisis, according to official governmental data, more than 100.000 persons are currently disappeared in Mexico.

This paper analyses the struggles for public remembrance in urban space by initiatives of search collectives and associations of relatives as a protest form. Before the background of impunity of these crimes and the victims lacking public recognition, I aim to analyze two case studies in which commemorative spaces were built in major Mexican cities: The re-signification by the installation of several anti monuments on Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, where a square in parallel to the Niños Héroes Square in Guadalajara, both iconic sites of the city centers, was recently renamed Glorieta de los Desaparecidos.

Following Henri Lefebvre's notion of the "social construction of space" and David Harvey's claim of the "right to the city" as a form of urban resistance, I will look at the different symbolic layers of both squares and how their meaning has changed over time, focussing on memory practices and how these spaces are appropriated and re-signified by grass roots, memory and relatives associations, not only commemorating absence but also claiming the presence of the disappeared. 

Professor
,
University of California, Merced
Dr.ir.
,
Delft University of Technology / Designing Memory
Associate Professor
,
CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College,
DAAD Longterm Professor, Coordinator of the Center for European Studies, DEILA, CUCSH
,
University of Guadalajara
Lecturer in Public History
,
Newcastle University
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