Heroic past versus un-heroic present: the politics of memory and its discontent
(University of Zagreb)
Paper short abstract:
By analyzing the case of the main square in the town of Sisak, Croatia, the paper looks at public, and administrative narratives, as well as art projects as mediators of identity-building by discursive practices. It surveys the discourses of the past which are in denial and those emerging.
Paper long abstract:
This paper aims at exploring how past became a central issue in the construction of the present of the post-socialist Croatia. By analyzing the case of the main square in the town of Sisak, Croatia, which has been undergoing substantial changes due to the changed political climate in 1990's, the paper surveys public narratives, administrative practices and decisions, as well as art projects as mediators of identity-building through the memorization strategies. It follows a research conducted in the town of Sisak during the last two years and the narratives of the past/future employed after the collapse of socialism which were developed in the reconstruction of the urban landscapes of the town. The paper seeks to answer a research question: who are the "curators» of social and cultural memory? Which discourses of the past are in denial and which are emergent? Is the past the only thing that articulates the present, owns the present and provides an authoritative and prevailing voice in construction of the present? By showing how undergoing art projects oppose collective and administrative endeavors of memorization of place, the paper hopes to enlighten the ways in which "self-affirming" and oppositional tradition is constructed in a new political context via the discourse of diversity.