Global Reflections upon Remembering War
Table Of Contents
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- List of Figures
- Foreword (John, Lord Alderdice)
- Introduction: The Call to Remembrance (Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro)
- Part I Textual Commemoration
- Introduction: Words Fail Us (Catherine Gilbert)
- Now as Then (Jenny Lewis)
- Memoir and Memory (Aminatta Forna with Elleke Boehmer)
- The Act of Looking Back (Philippe Sands)
- Daring to Remember (Rachel Seiffert)
- Reflections on International Justice as a Commemorative Process (Shea Esterling, Michael John-Hopkins and Christopher Harding)
- Bearing Witness, Becoming Human: Cultural Memory, ‘Post-Truth’ and the Digital (Daniel O’Gorman)
- Encountering Commemoration (Jane Potter with Kate McLoughlin)
- My History, Our History (Robert Eaglestone)
- Sacred Memory/Prosaic History: Rivesaltes Memorial Camp (Lyndsey Stonebridge)
- Commemoration, Collective Loss and Social Cohesion (Harvey Whitehouse)
- Open Wounds: Commemorating the Colombian Conflict (Cherilyn Elston)
- What Is It All About? (Frank Ledwidge)
- Lacrimae Rerum : Building a Bridge between Literary and Monumental Commemoration (Alex Donnelly)
- Uruk’s Anthem (Extracts) (Adnan al-Sayegh)
- Part II Monumental Commemoration
- Introduction: More than Stone – Finding Ourselves in Our Monuments (Niall Munro)
- Articulating History: Architecture and Memory (Daniel Libeskind)
- From Brokenness to Reconciliation (The Very Reverend John Witcombe)
- Reconciliation and a Responsibility to the Past (Cornelia Kulawik with Kate McLoughlin)
- Memorials that Lurk and Pounce (Gabriel Moshenska)
- Three Poems (Sue Zatland)
- Community through Creativity: Empowering Veteran Artists (Mark Johnston with Alex Donnelly)
- The Paradoxes of Commemoration (Emma Login)
- Commemoration and the Limits of Empathy (Silke Arnold-de Simine with Catherine Gilbert)
- Four Poems (Mariah Whelan)
- The Knowledge (Jeremy Treglown)
- A Concretisation of Meaning: Making Memorials (Charles Gurrey with Niall Munro)
- When Is the Focus on Memory Just Too Much? The Challenges of Commemoration and Cultural Memory (Marita Sturken with Niall Munro)
- Memoration (Susie Campbell)
- The Scent of Commemoration (Justine Shaw)
- Stones Do Not Forget: Forgetting and Being Forgotten in Czech Silesia (Johana Wyss)
- Lose the Dudes, Keep the Horses: On Civil War Monuments in the United States (Tony Horwitz)
- Part III Aural Commemoration
- Introduction: Music, Voices, Absence, Silence (Kate McLoughlin)
- Mourning and Music (Juliana M. Pistorius)
- Music and Memory (Jonathan Dove with Kate Kennedy)
- Classical to Dub-Reggae: The First World War and Musical Memory (Peter Grant)
- Bag of Bones (Dunya Mikhail)
- Interviewing as a Commemorative Practice (Rita Phillips)
- Hearing the Dead (Annabel Williams)
- Listening to the Past, Sound (Paul Whitty)
- Hush (Susie Campbell)
- Returning from Europe, Reflections on Post-War Commemoration (John Dunston)
- From ‘Daniel’ (Patrick Toland)
- Remembering the Lebanese Civil War (Lydia Wilson)
- Monumental Silences (Noreen Masud)
- Re-valuing Silence (Férdia J. Stone-Davis)
- The Costliness of Commemoration (Maggie Ross)
- Traces (Susie Campbell)
- Notes on Contributors
Figure 8. March organised by ‘Defendamos la Paz’ [Let’s Defend Peace] movement in support of the peace process and in protest against the assassination of social leaders in Colombia. Bogotá, Colombia, 26 July 2019 (© Cherilyn Elston).←xi | xii→ ←xii | xiii→
john, lord alderdice
The spate of centenaries of First World War events, and the anniversaries of other major violent conflicts of the past century, may have tempted you to glaze over when the subject of commemoration is raised. Maybe you have regarded it as a relatively straightforward matter of individuals or communities calling to mind experiences of the past by way of celebration of chosen victories, or in the hope that recalling sacrifices and trauma may enable us to find a way of ensuring that we do not have to repeat them. This book recounts a journey into the subject in much greater depth and variety during a year of exploration at Oxford.
As the last survivors of those terrible events of 100 years ago slip into history, we may rightly wonder for whom we engage in such commemorations, and why. In the early and even medium term it may have been assumed that it would contribute to post-war reconstruction and reconciliation. Was this really the case, and can it possibly mean the same thing as time goes on and later generations, who never directly experienced the conflict, participate in commemorations? We now understand that psychological time and chronological time do not have similar schedules. Our experience in Northern Ireland, in the Balkans and in many other places has helped us to learn that what is past for outsiders may remain very current for those who live in communities that have experienced trauma and violent conflict. Irish-Americans have continued to be influenced in their attitude to Britain, right up to the present, by the dreadful events of the Great Irish Famine of the late 1840s. In other cases what appeared to have been consigned to history can be summoned up by demagogues and existential threats, not as ghosts of the past, but as experiences that are perceived as real and present dangers, or even future threats.
What elements of commemoration assist in turning the past into history and what mechanisms can be used to collapse time and recreate old divides? It is obvious that, when we touch on such matters, we are talking not merely of intellectual but of profoundly emotional drivers, both for ←xv | xvi→individuals and for whole communities. This book explores not just the textual, monumental and aural aspects of commemoration, but identifies how various cultural elements of our communal engagement are employed to process the terrible, and indeed the ‘unspeakable’ experiences of war and other violent political conflicts.
So, as you begin to leaf through the pages, you will be enabled to see things from perspectives you had not imagined before and to feel, with a greater emotional imperative than you might have expected, the impossibility of forgetting about commemoration. You will be caused to wonder, with all of us who have participated in this journey, where commemoration will take us and what its future might be in a digital age where what we do, and what is done to us, is recorded as never before. Such material may be retained for the future, but not necessarily with the emotional power or nuance that gives it meaning and allows us to make it into memory, as individuals, and into history, as communities.
Our first thanks go to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for funding the Post-War seminar series of which this book is an out-growth and for allowing us to use some of the funds towards publication costs. Martha Sullivan at Mellon has been a source of great encouragement throughout. Kate McLoughlin would also like to thank the Faculty of English and Humanities Division at the University of Oxford for funds in support of the volume, and Niall Munro thanks colleagues in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Oxford Brookes University, especially Dr Katharine Craik, for their support for the series and this volume. All three of us would like to thank the Principal, Fellows and staff at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, for their support in hosting our numerous team meetings and events and for creating such a welcoming environment.
Special thanks are also due to Dr Johana Wyss for transcribing the interviews and talks (a herculean task!), to Dr Annabel Williams for inspired and inspiring editorial assistance and for compiling the index and to Dr Ian Finlay for his eagle-eyed copy-editing. We are also extremely grateful to Geraldine Brooks for granting permission for us to use Tony Horwitz’s piece. Professor Jay Winter generously advised us on some historical details (but we remain responsible for any errors that remain). We are also grateful to Dr Alice Kelly and Dr Laura Tradii for their valuable contributions to the series.
We thank Wulfran Press for permission to publish Jenny Lewis’s poem ‘Now as Then’ and Taj Kandoura’s Arabic translation of it; Dancing Girl Press for permission to publish Mariah Whelan’s four poems; Guillemot Press for permission to publish sections from Susie Campbell’s Tenter; and New Directions Publishing and Carcanet Press for permission to publish ‘Bag of Bones’ by Dunya Mikhail in English and Arabic.
catherine gilbert, kate mcloughlin and niall munro
Commemoration is the call to remembrance, which can be a simple mental act by an individual or a grand collective occasion of pomp and circumstance. Remembrance itself is a measure of what matters to us (and a measure of ‘us’). ‘We’ want this – this person, this thing, this event – to continue to have a trace in the world. We want it to do so because its absence is difficult to bear or because it is an uplifting reminder of what we are capable of at our best or because it is a salutary warning of what we can do at our worst. There are other reasons, too, but commemoration is founded on, and therefore an expression of, our values.
Behind this book is a year of discussion, thought and creativity about commemoration involving people from all over the world. In 2017–18, generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in memory of its third President, John E. Sawyer, the co-editors convened a year-long international seminar series at the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University in which we tried better to understand the motivations and consequences of commemoration. Drawing on our scholarly interests in war writing, we focused on a particular kind of commemoration – that which has followed in the wake of armed conflict. Plenty of data was to hand as this was the final year of the First World War centenaries, but we extended our explorations well beyond the wars that have received most attention.1 Participants arrived in Oxford from Australia, Austria, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Czechia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Syria, the United States and from all parts of the UK. We talked about commemorations of armed conflicts ←1 | 2→across the globe and back into history, from the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda to the Spanish Civil War, from the fighting in Lebanon and Gaza to the violence in North East India, from the American Civil War to the Bosnian Genocide.
Our aim was to bring as many points-of-view into the discussions as possible. In particular, we wanted to benefit from the special expertise of creative practitioners – those people whose productions actually constitute various forms of commemoration. So we invited poets, novelists, memoirists, non-fiction writers, play- and film-directors, artists, architects, sculptors and musicians. We brought them into conversation with military veterans, policy-makers, activists, religious leaders, journalists, specialists in conflict resolution, people working for NGOs and in the charitable and heritage sectors, and academics from a wide variety of fields. We listened to presentations, to poetry readings (in Arabic and in English), to a solo performance on the Syrian oud, to a concert with choirs and orchestra, to sound-installations of nothing happening. We made candles and collages. We sat in extended silence. We debated and disagreed and were moved beyond words. Do visit the series website at <http://torch.ox.ac.uk/themes/post-war-commemoration-reconstruction-reconciliation> to see our blog, videos and audio podcasts.
- XVIII, 346
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2020 (August)
- Post-War Commemoration Reconciliation First World War World War I
- Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2020. XVIII, 346 pp., 11 fig. col., 14 fig. b/w.