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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P128)

Memory and heritage making in contested spaces

Location Tower A, Piso 1, Room 104
Date and Start Time 18 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenor

Paulo Costa (Institute for Museums and Conservation) email
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Short Abstract

Heritage and memory are not silent processes. This panel presents a series of grounded ethnographies on the construction of "places of memory" in past or present conflict contexts.

Long Abstract

Heritage making and remembering are not silent social processes, as they are embedded in historical events or contexts that constitute a negotiated, contested and sometimes violent arena. This panel will allow scholars to present grounded ethnographies of the role of places, territories and landscapes in the contestation and claim of local or national identity. But the authors will not only give some new examples of the "places of memory" paradigm, they will also present the dynamic and overlaid play of different memories of various groups on one site, tracing the framework of a sensitive approach to the memory of the places. The papers should include topics such as ethnic identity, genocide commemoration, war and post-war, religious minority, uses of the past, urban spaces and political claim.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Indigenous claims for a new national history: the Argentine case

Author: Sabine Kradolfer (Université de Lausanne)  email
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Short Abstract

In Argentina, the official national history is now questioned by indigenous peoples who started to claim for specific rights since the 80s. In my paper, I will analyze the way in which indigenous peoples and organizations are acting today in order to get a revision of conservative national history.

Long Abstract

In Argentina, the official national history is now questioned by indigenous peoples who started to claim for specific rights since the 80s. Heroic figures of the national construction, as for example General Roca, are strongly attacked by indigenous who ask for a revision of history and recognition of the genocide of the indigenous peoples by the Argentine armies at the end of the 19th century. Even if these claims are supported by some historians, these alternative visions of national history challenge the foundational myth of the Nation, and are difficultly accepted by conservative historians. Indigenous peoples ask nowadays for a rewriting of history that would take in account their point of view and recognize their importance in the construction of the Nation after years of invisibilization and remission to an anhistoric past (school book deal with indigenous cultures only in the section dedicated to the prehispanic time). In my paper, I will analyze the way in which indigenous peoples and organizations are acting today in order to get a revision of the conservative national history.

"Remembering the war with dreams": the relationship between dreams and history in the Andean context

Author: Arianna Cecconi (University of Milano-Bicocca)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper offers a way of approaching the memory of the war and the ongoing reconciliation process in the post-conflict Peru, from the “point of view” of the dreams of the inhabitants of the region of Ayacucho and the accounts of dreams collected from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Long Abstract

The armed conflict between the Shining Path movement and the Peruvian army in the 1980s and 1990s deeply shaped the life of the Andean people in the region of Ayacucho, the epicenter of the violence. This paper offers a way of approaching the memory of this war and the ongoing reconciliation process from the "point of view" of the dreams of the inhabitants of two peasant communities in the region of Ayacucho and the accounts of dreams collected from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. While investigating the oneiric revelations, dreams that "act" upon bodies, the visits of the souls of the desaparecidos, it is possible to penetrate the complex dialectics between memory and forgetting that shapes post-war settings and that takes on specific patterns in the oneiric dimension. This paper discusses on the one hand how the imaginary and the oneiric "iconographies" and interpretations historically transform themselves, embodying historical events and interacting with them, and on the other hand explores how oneiric narrations play an important part in the construction of personal biographies, memories of certain episodes (such as war), and in the process of coping with the experience of violence shaping this social context.

Smash the border! Identity claims and contested places in the Basque Country

Author: Aitzpea Leizaola (University of the Basque Country)  email
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Short Abstract

A major significant landmark from a state perspective, the border between France and Spain has become in the last decades the target of political contest in the Basque Country. Smashed boundary stones emerge as symbols for political claims for Basque identity.

Long Abstract

A major significant landmark from a state perspective, the border between France and Spain has become in the last decades the target of political contest in the Basque Country. The border has produced its own rituals, embedded in the national imaginary promoted by both states, such as the revision of boundary stones every year. In the basque area, these rituals contrast with traditional territorial rituals thought as devoid of any political charge. These recall a particular conception of territory, in which space becomes place by performing specific rituals, such as walking the imaginary line linking the boundary stones marking village limits.

In contrats, in a landscape shaped by European integration, smashed boundary stones along the international border emerge as symbols for political claims for Basque identity. Drawing from ethnographic data gathered in a multi-sited fieldwork along the border, this paper highlights how debates about territorial markers and heritage are entangled with highly political issues.

Re-shaping places, re-shaping memory: post-war reconstruction in Sarajevo and Beirut

Author: Gruia Badescu (University of Cambridge)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper examines the practices of reshaping places, memory and identity through war and post-war reconstruction in Sarajevo and Beirut.

Long Abstract

Before the war in Bosnia (1992-1995) and the civil war of Lebanon (1975-1990), Sarajevo and Beirut were praised for the harmonious common life of their different ethno-religious communities. War, however, destroyed the urban fabric, led to residential segregation of groups and challenged the idea of a common life. This paper analyzes how war and post-war architectural reconstruction were used to bring forward selected aspects of heritage and collective memory and re-shape the identities and social memories of the two cities. It examines the deliberate targeting of places and sites of common life in the two cities during the war and the attitudes in recreating them through the reconstruction process. Furthermore, it explores the ways in which heritage sites were prioritized in the reconstruction process in order to re-shape spatial and social memories. The paper contrasts the reconstruction practices in Sarajevo, where the reconstruction and new building of religious structures reflect the segregation of the post-war city, with the reconstruction of downtown Beirut, aimed to be a place of common life and healing for all ethno-religious groups, but which created new walls because of social hierarchies. It is based on field research conducted in Sarajevo and Beirut through 2009 with a NGS grant. The analysis of architectural practices, political discourse and ethnographies are at the basis of this endeavour.

Place and remembering: understanding memory and its making through urban artifacts

Author: Sukanya Krishnamurthy (Eindhoven University of Technology)  email
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Short Abstract

Urban artifacts (Rossi) as material witness to understand the convergence of memory and history in a social setting aiding the construction of place identity.

Long Abstract

The construction of place identity is complex, mixed and a peculiar constellation of history and memory that is bound by both the collective and the individual. Understanding of the construction of this identity through urban artifacts or the built environment within the city or a social setting blurs' the edges between where history ends and memory begins. As the relationships established between 'man and stone', is set to aide not just the construction of history but also the making of place. The link between past, present and future is made through their materiality (Rowlands 1993), materiality of objects that aide in construction of places by providing stimuli for remembering, what Umberto Eco calls as 'sign vehicles'.

Urban artifacts as place or sites of memory are necessary to create environments of memory and history within the city (Nora) that has a communicative role in society. The rhetoric between the act of history and memory followed by the representation of the same through commemorative building follows an interesting path of converging places of memory and history as seen with the Old Bridge in Mostar, BiH.

I propose to explore within the scope of this paper, built objects as physical markers and a material presence to understand the convergence of memory and history. Through a site of memory (the Old Bridge), history/ memory has been reintroduced into the city through the rebuilding of the demolished bridge, contributing to the notion of making of place as well.

Memory places of Jews in former East Germany today

Author: Karine Michel (IDEMEC, MMSH, Aix-en-Provence)  email
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Short Abstract

Despite an important memory landscape around German-Jewish history in former East Germany today, Jews don’t recognize themselves in it. Recreating other different memory places, Jews express today a specific heritage and identity, that is wanted without any link and identification to Germany.

Long Abstract

The memory landscape of former East Germany today is full of monuments and other memory places commemorating an event of the German-Jewish history. The use of different forms for the memorial places (monuments, steles, commemorative tablets) is a way to transmit and cause many different feelings and emotions about this terrible history to each one. But, as surprising it can be at a first look, Jews in former East Germany today don't feel themselves concerned by this memorial landscape. According to them, this history is not theirs, it's the one of Germans.

Trying to understand this lack of identification, the analyses reveals the existence of another collective memory, the one of those Jews, that express itself through photographies, the Book (namely Torah) or nomination (as it can be put in concrete forms by cemeteries). Such a memory illustrates a specific identity construction, the one of Jews in former East Germany today, that do not identificate themselves with this country and even refuse it, even when they live there.

Even if those Jews have choosen in a way to live in Germany today, the weight of history is too important to be easily gone beyond. At time, the identification to the Jewish people can't fit in with a German identity.

'Cemetery, which is no long a cemetery': the external idea of the Jewish cemetery in Chernivtzi (Ukraine) as cultural heritage and its consequences for perceiving the local community

Author: Karolina Koziura (The New School for Social Research, New York)  email
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Short Abstract

Nowadays NGOs are being seen as the most powerful identity constructors, who by their projects create the perception of particular spaces and concrete communities. The source of this are topics, which they raise by eg. renewing cemeteries, but also the way in which they work within communities and produce a power.

Long Abstract

In 2008 an eastern Ukrainian NGO started its activity in Chernivtzi (town in Western Ukraine) with the superior definition of Jewish cemetery as a cultural heritage. Till their project nobody from the local community seemed to be interested in it - it had been seen in its bad condition (devastated tombstones and bushes). The NGO, by setting there volunteers, who cleaned it up and cooperated with citizens, started the campaign for the preservation of the cemetery and the education of the local community about the multicultural history of Chernivtzi. But after two years of this project nothing has been changed - still nobody seems to be interested in it.

To find the answer, why the local community has not been involved in the NGO's project we need to define the nature of cultural heritage - and differences between the point of view of organization and the natives. The way in which the NGO describes the cemetery shapes the identity of Jews in Chernivtzi, which is based on their XIX century representation and has nothing to do with their present situation.

In my paper I want to illustrate by examples from my 1-year fieldwork in Chernivtzi in which way the NGO defined the cultural heritage of Chernivtzi - what is the source of it and the consequences for how we perceive the city and all the region. By the experience of participant observation among Jews, I will try to get an answer about why they are not interested in the project and what is their perspective on their own identity and place of living.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.