Traces of Terror, Signs of Trauma. Practices of (Re)Presentation of Collective Memory in Space in Contemporary Europe
This special issue of Vs. – Quaderni di studi semiotici edited by Rob van der Laarse, Francesco Mazzucchelli and Carlos Reijnen is dedicated to an interdisciplinary reflection on European spaces of war heritage, with articles by Gerry Kearns (National University of Ireland), Patrizia Violi (Università di Bologna), Csaba Szilagyi (Open Society Archives, Budapest), Patrick Naef (University of Berkeley), Cristina De Maria(Università di Bologna), Taja Kramberger (Educational Research Institute, Ljubljana), Elena Monicelli (Scuola di Pace di Montesole).
The issue collects contributions by semioticians, historians, geographers who elaborate, from different point of views, on how in Europe the collective memory of XX century's wars has been recorded, represented, preserved and transmitted through monuments, places of memory, landscape, urban heritage, museums, media representations. The articles analyze diverse objects - an abandoned barrack in Auschwitz Monowitz, Terror Haza museum in Budapest, a temporary exhibition about Srebrenica-Potocari massacre in a Budapest archive, Stalin World theme park in Lithuania, a First World War camp as represented in a documentary, Risiera di San Sabba and its role in Nazi topography of Trieste, Historical Park of Monte Sole - but they pose similar questions, revolving around pivotal topics: the role of traumatic events in shaping cultural memories; authenticity of traces and their conversion in signs of memory; the narrative dimension of spatial memory; social practices and performances (tourism, commemoration, education) as means to transform the memory of a place.
But the main question posed by this volume regards the European dimension of these diverse memories: Europeans share the atrocities of XX century, but does this common past represent today a solid base on which it will be possible to construct a shared cultural heritage (and then a common European identity) or rather can the diverse narratives of this past initiate "interpretative conflicts" and competition among national, local and supranational memories? And how XX century's wars memory relates with the more recent conflicts at the edge of Europe?
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