Making sense of a shipwreck: state memorialism versus popular politics in Senegal
Ferdinand de Jong (University of East Anglia)
Paper short abstract:
In 2002 the Joola ferry shipwreck killed almost 2,000 passengers. The interpretation of the shipwreck turned into an epistemological frame for political action, resulting in a peace treaty concluding a civil war. This paper analyses memory as political action.
Paper long abstract:
In 2002 the Joola ferry shipwrecked on its way from the southern region to the capital Dakar, killing almost 2,000 passengers. In its wake multiple explanations for the disaster were provided. While the President acknowledged the State's responsibility and subsequently memorialised the shipwreck in an annual commemoration, local women's groups interpreted the shipwreck as a result of an intervention by the separatist movement. Their interpretation of the shipwreck inscribed the shipwreck in an ongoing history of civil war in the region, and empowered them in their struggle to stop the civil war. The interpretation of the shipwreck thus turned into an epistemological frame for political action. This paper focuses on how the women "remembered" the event and how this resulted in a distinct course of political action. The paper explores how remembering reconfigures power and politics.