Currently viewing the tag: "memorialization"

Is the tide of history turning against the humanitarians? The news is ominous, but today’s five famines and near-famines do not yet rank alongside the horrors of earlier eras. Our progress has stalled. It can yet be resumed, if we care enough to make our political leaders do the right thing. As we commemorate the victims of the great English famine inflicted on the Irish 170 years ago, we should also evoke that memory to cry, “never again”. When the citizens of nations vilify the perpetrators of starvation, and insist that the humanitarian imperative overrides realpolitik and profit, then we can at last effectively prohibit famine.

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One of the more complex meditations on memory and forgetting after war, comes not from social science, international law or erudite essay, but from this year’s winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for literature, Kazuo Ishiguro, in his 2015 novel, The Buried Giant (2015). Set in an era following King Arthur’s demise, the characters inhabit a land beset by the fog of forgetting. The novel posits several ways to imagine the purpose of memory from the perspective of how its absence afflicts the story’s core characters.

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The below short video [3.5 minutes] is based on Bridget Conley’s two part essay, “How a statue unveiled the President.”

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Monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis or other Confederate icons tell a different story from that of the American dream of unending expansion of equality and justice. As documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the vast majority was erected by those committed to the history of prejudice and racism despite losing the war, by transforming it into the narrative of the Lost Cause. Defeat in battle transformed into a fight to control the peace. While commemoration began in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, monuments to the Lost Cause—many taking the same form of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville that was the provocation for the latest events in 2017—sprouted like poisonous mushrooms in the days after a storm. Construction of these symbols of the south surged at the turn of the last century, spiking in 1910 but continuing into the early 1940s, contemporaneous to the imposition of Jim Crow laws across the South.

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The swamps around Washington, DC were drained a long time ago to make space for the nation’s monuments. In the 1800s, the capital landscape underwent alterations that culminate in today’s National Mall, an expanse of 146 acres, dotted with museums, memorials and monuments whose contradictory stories represent American history. The most recent addition is […]

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My research over the past year has returned to a topic I once spent a great deal of time thinking about: memorial museums. And so I took advantage of a recent trip to New York City to tour, for the first time, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

The events of September 11th – […]

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