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Unformatted text preview: 47 3 Lisa M. Moore is a Master in Public Affairs (MPA) 2009 Graduate of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. She currently works as a humanitarian policy officer in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in New York. (R E ) COVERING THE P AST , R EMEMBERING T RAUMA : THE P OLITICS OF C OMMEMORATION AT S ITES OF A TROCITY Lisa M. Moore 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. 48 I NTRODUCTION The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past. They are fighting for access to the laboratories where photographs are retouched and biographies and histories rewritten… The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting (Kundera 1981, 22). A recent survey of victims of violence reported that memorialization was prioritized as the second most valuable form of state reparations follow- ing monetary compensation (Brett, et al 2008, 2). In part, it is perhaps this impetus to bear witness to the suffering of victims that has given rise to a proliferation of memorials in recent decades, including those marking genocide in Rwanda, Cambodia, and Bosnia, violent repression in Argentina and Chile, wars of liberation in Bangladesh and Palestine, nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, and terrorism in Madrid and New York. As a form of transitional justice, memorials have too often been relegated to the domain of artists and architects whereas they represent a strategic resource in conflict and peace. Many veins of memorialization can be pursued in the space between justice and reconciliation, forgiveness and retribution, and remembrance and forgetting. Memorials can act as a conduit for reconciliation, bringing opposed groups together, or they can entrench divisions and aggravate old wounds. They may consult afflicted parties and deliver a form of justice through acknowledgement to the aggrieved or they may entirely...
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- Fall '11
- Khmer Rouge, memorials, Tuol Sleng