Memory, Activism and Social Justice NUBS 1.13
Jul 07, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230707T0900 20230707T1030 Europe/London 8.2. Reconciliation and its Sites of Memory

In this panel we are searching for venues of reconciliation in societies politically and emotionally divided by terrorist violence. We should recognize the victims' demands for justice and truth, which first means establishing the facts and the truth of what took place.In this sense, how well do museums, lieux de mémoire, monuments, celebrations, demonstrations, or any other practice of remembering serve the goals of recognition, justice, and truth for the victims of the past? Should a democracy make the fair causes of the victim its own? In other words, how can we differentiate between reconciliation as a tool for further democratization from its instrumentalization as a mere celebratory event with little consequence for public life? A questioning and discontent with the actual policies of reconciliation will play a fundamental role in the making of a robust civil society that is not willing to easily forget its past and its victims.With this purpose in mind we are looking for essays dealing and exploring the issue of reconciliation across borders and times, countries and historical moments. Our approach is not national or regional, even though the studies could focus on countries or nations. The responses to facilitate reconciliation do not stop at the national border. The knowledge gained from one experience can serve to appease violent confrontations in another context.

Annabel Martín, Dartmouth College (USA)Denaturalizing Cruelty: Maixabel Lasa, Victim and Peacemaker, in Zubiak (Sistiaga, 2019) and Maixabel (Bollaín, 2021)In this presentation, I will focus on two films that bring victims and victimizers together within the framework of restorative justice in the context of a post-ETA society in the Basque Country. The creative world of the arts, more sp ...

NUBS 1.13 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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In this panel we are searching for venues of reconciliation in societies politically and emotionally divided by terrorist violence. We should recognize the victims' demands for justice and truth, which first means establishing the facts and the truth of what took place.
In this sense, how well do museums, lieux de mémoire, monuments, celebrations, demonstrations, or any other practice of remembering serve the goals of recognition, justice, and truth for the victims of the past? Should a democracy make the fair causes of the victim its own? In other words, how can we differentiate between reconciliation as a tool for further democratization from its instrumentalization as a mere celebratory event with little consequence for public life? A questioning and discontent with the actual policies of reconciliation will play a fundamental role in the making of a robust civil society that is not willing to easily forget its past and its victims.
With this purpose in mind we are looking for essays dealing and exploring the issue of reconciliation across borders and times, countries and historical moments. Our approach is not national or regional, even though the studies could focus on countries or nations. The responses to facilitate reconciliation do not stop at the national border. The knowledge gained from one experience can serve to appease violent confrontations in another context.



Annabel Martín, Dartmouth College (USA)

Denaturalizing Cruelty: Maixabel Lasa, Victim and Peacemaker, in Zubiak (Sistiaga, 2019) and Maixabel (Bollaín, 2021)

In this presentation, I will focus on two films that bring victims and victimizers together within the framework of restorative justice in the context of a post-ETA society in the Basque Country. The creative world of the arts, more specifically, the films studied here beg this question: if the processes of restorative justice are uniquely designed to be experienced in a triangulated scenario-one shared by victim, victimizer, and mediator-what might these conversations offer a society in need of better models of co-existence when put on the screen? Can art mediate? Jon Sistiaga's Zubiak (Bridges) (2019) is a clear example of how an honest, direct, and painful conversation between a victim of ETA (Maixabel Lasa) and one of the assassins of her husband (Ibon Etxezarreta) invites viewers to question many presuppositions about the "face" of the killer, the one who embodied and lived in ETA's necropolitical world and now hopes for a space of grievability as he sees himself through the eyes of his victim, in this case, of Maixabel Lasa herself. Iciar Bollaín's Goya winning film Maixabel (2021) could be seen as an in-depth exploration of what Zubiak only begins, as this documentary focuses on one conversation between Maixabel and Ibon and gives us a hint of their interpersonal relationship as a glimpse into the difficult road of healing. Maixabel focuses on the profound contradictions embedded in the re-imagining of the social and affective glue that moves and inspires societies. This affective turn in thinking about reconciliation and co-existence will guide the analysis of both films.


Dr Itoitz R. Jusue, ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at Loughborough University. 

The battle of narratives and the (re)construction of violent pasts in the Basque Country: A critical examination of the Memorial Centre for the Victims of Terrorism (Vitoria-Gasteiz) and the Gogoragunea project (Bilbao) 

Two years after the inauguration of the polemical Memorial Centre for the Victims of Terrorism in Vitoria-Gasteiz, a new museographic space, Gogoragunea led by the Basque Institute for Memory, Coexistance and Human Rights (Gogora), is being created in Bilbao. These two mnemonic devices not only illustrate the wider "battle of narratives" that is being fought over the last years in Spain/the Basque Country, but also reveal the influential role of public institutions in processes of memorialisation. These projects shed light on the existing tensions in the representations of the past, on the construction of collective memories, and their implications in the present. Analysing the discourses, the employment of silence, and the multisensorial stimulations crafted in both spaces, this paper compares their role as conflict curators and as spaces of inscription. Drawing on the ten tools proposed by Bermudez and Epstein (2020) to deconstruct historical narratives that normalise violence, the paper examines how both memorial spaces understand violent pasts and (re)produce particular security discourses. Finally, the paper explores the potential of individual and group memories to disrupt official/hegemonic memories and create alternative imaginaries that enable social change.


Yordanka Dimcheva, University of Birmingham

In-between Commemoration and Contestation: Symbolic Practices of Remembrance in the Aftermath of Terrorist Attacks in France (2015-2016)

Two of the deadliest terrorist attacks committed in France – the 13 November 2015 Paris attacks and the 14 July 2016 attack in Nice – have sent unprecedented shockwaves throughout the country and have been the subject of numerous commemorative practices ranging from spontaneous memorials to state-led projects for the inauguration of a memorial-museum and a memorial garden in tribute to the victims. While inert memorials and public commemorative events have attracted vast public and media attention, individual and symbolic practices of remembrance have rarely been considered (e.g. Allen and Brown 2011). Little attention has also been paid to the role such individual and symbolically-laden forms of memorialization play in contesting security failures, consequent governmental policies, and enduring perceptions of injustice.

The proposed paper investigates individual commemorative practices and 'living memorials' to which families of victims to terrorism have dedicated themselves as both instances of commemoration and contestation. Based on semi-structured interviews, site observation and photo documentation, the paper seeks to understand how families value, use and talk about their ritualised practices and living memorials and the role they attribute to them in terms of unsettling oblivion and maintaining a collective level of awareness.

By drawing attention specifically to the symbolic value and meaning bereaved families inscribe in constituting such practices, the paper will argue that commemorative labour does not only play a role in keeping memory of victims alive, but also presents a way of coping with feelings of injustice and working through trauma in the aftermath of extremist violence and loss.


Dr Karin Yeșilada, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

From Mölln to Hanau/Main – Turkish-German Memory Works on Terror Attacks

Terror attacks against Turkish-German citizens, be it arson attacks or mass shootings, have put certain towns on Germany's Map: Mölln 1992, Solingen 1993, Hanau/Main 2019, and several other places being hit by the NSU murder attacks (like Kassel, Köln, and others) not only mark a place in memory for Germany as such. But in a special way, they also present what Pierre Nora defines as a Lieu de Mémoire for the Turkish-German Memory.

Consequently, there have been actions and activities forming the memory work of the (Turkish-)German community, in order to keep the memory of the victims alive: Planting Trees, erecting statues, or inscriptions are means to preserve the remembrance and remind the civilian society of the fragility of democratic structures, as Aleida Assmann points out in "Erinnerungskultur". Yet, there are also repeated damages done to statues, trees and other objects, which poses the question about the impact of material memory culture as opposed to immaterial, like literary or filmic art works. My Paper seeks to explore some of these memory works, as well as to engage in literary discourses dealing with these real and imaginary memory sites like for example the "Poetry post Solingen". How is the remembrance of terror against the Turkish minority in Germany negotiated in both German majority culture and Turkish-German community? 

Professor of Spanish, Comparative Literature, and Women's, Gender, and Sexualities Studies
,
Dartmouth College
ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow
,
Loughborough University, London
Ph. D. Candidate
,
University of Birmingham
Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin
,
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
 Mia Parkes
PhD Candidate
,
University of Birmingham
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