Linnaeus University, Kalmar 28-30 September 2011
Session: PLACES TO FORGET? LANDSCAPES AND MOMENTS OF VIOLENCE
Landscapes, like history, exist in the long duree, and yet some landscapes acquire salient, obtrusive, and important symbolic weight not through long-term usage by a local community but in a singular, short-lived moment in history, a violent moment. Battlefields are perhaps the clearest example of this, but place-names commemorating individuals who met untimely deaths also demonstrate that landscapes can become associated with a single moment in time. Through storytelling—either as oral tales, works of literature, or communally enacted narratives—these landscapes become places with a radical potential to redefine history and identity. This session looks at these places not only as lieux de memoire (P. Nora), essential in the construction of communal memory and identity, but also as highly personal anecdotes that the larger historical, national, and official narratives sometimes attempt to erase and forget. Indicative of a psychological reaction to trauma, but at a communal level, the various papers in this session are about tracing efforts at institutionalized forgetting, and at the measures— both contemporary and historical—to resist such forgetting. Examples of institutionalized forgetting of trauma include medieval sagas, celebratory objects, landscapes allowed to pass into disuse, architectural sites closed to visitors, and bodies buried under the soil. But efforts at recouping these forgotten, contested, controversial, “difficult heritages” (Macdonald 2009), or “dissonant heritages” (Ashworth and Turnbridg 1995) are also widespread. This session showcases the work of folklorists, local historians, museum professionals, archaeologists, art historians and literary scholars to recoup these forgotten narratives about places of violence. Such recuperation is by necessity part of reimagining identity both historically and contemporarily.
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