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(Re) Covering the Past, Remembering the Trauma: The Politics of Commemoration at Sites of Atrocity

Author(s): Moore, Lisa M.

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Abstract: This article explores the current upsurge in the production of memory with the construction of memorial sites worldwide to commemorate incidences of mass violence, atrocity, and genocide. Through the two empirical lenses of Cambodia and Rwanda, it grapples with what propels the impetus to memorialize, in whose interest memorials are constructed, and how memorials may fulfill multiple and competing purposes as a form of symbolic justice or reparations to the victims, an instrument for reconciliation, a mechanism for nation-building and political legitimacy, and a pedagogical tool to inculcate the preventative lessons of “never again.” Finally, using the contemporary debate surrounding the commemoration of Ground Zero in New York City, this paper argues that the challenge for architects, policymakers, and civil actors in the construction of memorials is not only to target their design toward their intended purpose, but is also to navigate the fact that memorials are eminently present and can enact violence through their representation of the past.
Publication Date: 2009
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Public and International Affairs
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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