Journal Issue:
Heritage of Violence

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Islands of the Abject: Absence, trauma and memory in the cemetery island.
Sheppard-Simms, Emma A
Cemetery islands–islands of death–are simultaneously real places as well as symbols of the ways in which death has been marginalized in the modern city. Since the nineteenth century, cemeteries on islands have tended to be quietly invisible places, reserved for the bodies of those who, in life, occupied the margins of human society: the deviants, the forgotten, the diseased and the insane. Places such as Hart Island, the vast potter’s field of New York City and Poveglia, the island where Venice’s plague victims were sent to die, remain resolutely out of sight and mind, hidden behind the shiny façade of the urban metropolis. Yet today such islands are also sites of transformation brought about by a growing interest in death-tourism, calls for public access to sites of heritage, and the continued real estate development of ‘authentic’ urban spaces. Even while some cemetery islands lie abandoned and ruined, other islands of death and marginalization have emerged to take their place as locales for the contemporary ‘Other’. It is these simultaneously transgressive and transformative qualities of cemetery islands that provide the main question for this paper: How might the dark histories of trauma and violence found within cemetery islands, be critically addressed within future representations of these islands? One cemetery island - Hart Island, located in New York City, is considered here as a generative landscape that has contributed to a discussion about continued practices of spatial exclusion and their potential transformation through alternative, experimental modes of art and design. This discussion is framed through Kristeva's theories of the abject and Foucault's notion of heterotopian space.
The Troubled Past and Contested Future of Northern Ireland's Maze Prison/Long Kesh
Dwiggins, Jill
As Northern Ireland's landmark Good Friday Agreement approaches its 20-year anniversary, one site looms particularly large in the memories and perspectives of men and women who lived through the civil conflict known as the Troubles. The remains of HM Maze Prison stand unoccupied and unused while Northern Ireland debates how this polarizing historical landscape figures into the population's recovery from historical violence. The Maze Prison/Long Kesh housed paramilitary prisoners from 1971 to 2000. A brief review of the prison history suggests that far from being placed "out of site, out of mind," its prisoners, employees, and administration retained an active role in the violence of the Troubles. Today the Maze Prison/Long Kesh serves as more than a reminder of a dark era; it is also a hotly contested cultural landscape. In the debate over the future of what remains of the prison campus, competing political perspectives have yielded proposals that prescribe drastically different approaches to the community's recovery. The prison site, perceived variably as a threat to the peace process, a minimum requirement for peace, a historical obligation, and an economic opportunity, waits in limbo for a political agreement regarding the extent to which the landscape should be put to recreational, commercial, historical, and civic use.
Notes From the Field: Rebuilding Lives Among Memories of Violence
Weber, Sanne
Colombia has been the site of one of the world’s longest internal armed conflicts. Its population has been trapped between different armed groups, who in their struggle for control over land and resources have uprooted millions of people. After the demobilization of the country’s paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) in 2006, many people have started returning to the land from which they were displaced. A land restitution and reparation program was adopted in 2011 that is now, slowly, returning land to its original owners and assisting people in the difficult process of resettling. This paper describes how people in two communities in Colombia’s Magdalena Department are attempting to rebuild their lives among memories of fear and violence, and in conditions that reflect the severe structural inequalities that many people still continue to suffer today.
Witnesses and the Changing Goals of Memorialization
Paynter, Braden; Hoque, Mofidul; Marifat, Hadi; Monicelli, Elena
Violence is experienced by many people first hand. While some of these people are later allowed to serve as witnesses through memorialization, many are not. Often, those excluded encompass whole categories of people: victims, perpetrators, soldiers, women, etc. Who is allowed to serve as a witness during memorialization often depends on a range of factors, such as timing and context. But the very definition of a witness also shapes what outcomes are possible from memorialization. This article looks at three members of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience from three different contexts (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Italy), and examines how their varying definitions of what a witness is are not only rooted in the needs of their societies, but also shape their memorialization and its impact on those societies.