Engaging with Memories

An interesting piece in the Ottowa Citizen looks at a controversy sparked by a national memorial to Victims of Communism, and what it says about the relationship between civic memory and civic engagement:

Monuments help us remember and acknowledge historical events. They also seek to communicate a particular set of shared values. In the case of both projects, the Canadian nation is being extolled alongside a specific version of Canadian heritage and identity. . .

and later:

The debate is the memorial. Memory scholar James Young wrote this in the 1990s as a newly reunified German state argued over the parameters of the country’s first central Holocaust memorial. Indeed, public debate over large-scale government projects such as monuments and museums provide valuable opportunities for civil society to make claims and also to challenge a government’s use and potential instrumentalization of history. Memorials are built out of public discussion and debate as much as they are out of concrete and stone.

You can read more here.

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