The Elephant in the Memory Room: Perpetrator's Sites in Comparative Perspective
University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
This paper presents an overview of the theoretical-conceptual proposal, which explores the relationship between space and examples of twentieth-century mass violence through the eye of the perpetrator's sites. The study of sites of memory of mass violence is linked to the practices of violence and, at the level of memory, to the management of the memory of the victims. However, we know that violence is constituted as a shared action in which together with the victim or victims, there is (visible or hidden, as often happens) the figure of the perpetrator. Based on a comparative study of how the managemente of these sites of violence-sites of memory is approached in the history of genocidal practices of the 20th century, from Choeung Ek to Buenos Aires, and from Madrid to Nairobi, this proposal presents an analysis that discusses the complexity of the presence of the absent in terms of the memory cycles of our time. In a journey through spaces, memorials and sites of denial and amnesia, we would observe the way in which the figure of the perpetrators are represented or hidden as the Elephant in the Memory Room. In an unequal and conflicting process, many uncomfortable questions about the past remain to be resolved, including the existence of numerous irregular graves that have not been exhumed and, above all, the fight against a denialist discourse that is entangled with ideas of reconciliation and forgetting.
Atoning for Violent Pasts: Assessing the Promise of Political Apologies
FLAME University, India
Political apologies have emerged as significant tools through which societies now seek to redress their violent pasts. Desired for their efficacy in righting past wrongs, facilitating closure, and promising hopes for reconciliation in the future, political apologies also attract criticisms for being vacuous, hypocritical, and doing too little too late. This paper intends to present an overview of political apologies along three lines. The first part deals with the meaning of political apologies and what they are expected to accomplish, thereby throwing light on why such apologies are demanded by victims of mass violence and why they are offered. The second part takes stock of the conditions an apology must fulfill in order for it to be effective or successful; since having to perform somewhat different functions, political apologies are distinct from interpersonal apologies in several ways and are required to meet a different set of criteria to be considered useful. The third part identifies some of the contradictions inherent in political apologies, emanating both from their scope as well as larger moral and philosophical concerns regarding the relevance of an apology as a just or moral response to genocides or other “crimes against humanity”. An appraisal of what political apologies can do and cannot do, then, can lend some balance against tendencies that either expect apologies to work under all circumstances or favor an off-hand dismissal of the phenomenon as meaningless without any regard to its many other benefits.
Temples of Memory: What's in the name?
Temples of Memory, Sweden
In this abstract submission I outline the the main elements of the paper I wish to present at the IAGS conference in Barcelona. First, I will present a historical background of Temples of Memory (www.templesofmemory.org). In doing so I identify and discuss the most important characteristics of the three different phases the platform went though since its inception in 2010. Second, I will discuss the lessons learned from what the platform was in its beginnings and what it became. Third, and finally, I reflect on the possibilities and limitations of online memorial spaces like Temples of Memory in the education against genocide.
On the one hand there is the photographic dimensions of the project; that is the photographer's transition from film photography to digital photography and the impact of such a transition in regard to questions of archival authenticity of genocide related photographs.
On the other hand there is the developments in Content Management Systems (CMS) that allowed the project to go from a small size photograph exhibition to interactive and large screen photographic exhibition to long form photographic storytelling and interactive photo-literature that elevates Temples of Memory to a kind of online memorial monument.
The third phase is more about the intended and the unintended consequences of the two phases above. These developments allowed Temples of Memory to become a shared memorial experience. The hope is that this shared experience becomes a tool for learning and teaching against genocide.
Finally I discuss the importance of what is intentionally and consciously not photographed, the challenges of using some of the images in the classroom, and the aspects of user experience privacy.
Ius post bellum and transitional justice: a theoretical framework of memory policies.
Academic reflection on the construction and maintenance of peace is based on teories such as ius post bellum one, a normative framework that can be linked to transitional justice and democratic memory. This paper proposes an encounter between these approaches through the study of their respective concepts. Therefore, it identifies the points of intersection and advances an incipient synthesis, as a contribution to the debate on the principles that affect public policies of memory, peace and human rights.
In this way, we proppose a theoretical paper around three angles of discussion: the ius post bellum, transitional justice and the politics of memory (democratic memory and/or historical memory). All this, applied to the management of post-conflict and transition towards democratic systems scenarios, in which there has been a genocide or similar violent dynamics.