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Intercultural Memories

Contesting Places, Spaces, and Stories


Edited By Ahmet Atay, Yea-Wen Chen and Alberto González

Collective remembering is an important way that communities name and make sense of the past. Places and stories about the past influence how communities remember the past, how they try to preserve it, or in some cases how they try to erase it. The research in this book offers key insights into how places and memories intersect with intercultural conflicts, oppressions, and struggles by which communities make sense of, deal with, and reconcile the past. The authors in this book examine fascinating stories from important sites—such as international commemorations of Korean “Comfort Women,” a film representation of the Stonewall Riots, and remembrances of the post-communist state in Albania. By utilizing various critical and cultural studies and ethnographic and narrative-based methods, each chapter examines cultural memory in intercultural encounters, everyday experiences, and identity performances that evoke collective memories of colonial pasts, immigration processes, and memories of places and spaces that are shaped by power structures and clashing ideologies. This book is essential reading for understanding the links between space/place and cultural memory, memories of nationally, and places constituted by markers of ethnicity, race, and sexuality. These readings are especially useful in courses in intercultural communication, cultural studies, international studies, and peace and conflict studies.
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4. Remembering Communism: The Site of Witness and Memory and the House of Leaves Museums in Albania



European University of Tirana

Remembering is a collective activity. The widely accepted definitions of memory as a shared understanding of the past (Halbwachs, 1925) and counter-memory as resistance against the official versions of historical continuity (Foucault, 1994) are largely articulated among contemporary memory scholarship. Places of memory are designated sites of memory that require public discussion, public approval and/or disapproval (Casey, 2004). Understanding public memory requires that memory and place, especially places of memory, be investigated in connection to each other and within the larger social context (Blair, Dickinson, & Ott, 2010). The fundamental changes that took place in former communist countries as they transitioned from a communist system to democracy and pluralism are historical events that call for specific attention to public memory. Such changes during transition periods require a reevaluation of what “it was” and what “it will be.” This reevaluation invites present interests, constitutes and requires group identities, attracts various affective investments, and requires material and symbolic support.

Scholarship regarding public memory and memory places, such as memorials, monuments, museums, and sites commemorating communism has been published in Europe as well as in the United States to some degree. Public debates about the communist past, especially related to the European Union project, have produced memory work throughout the former communist bloc. Museums and memorials commemorating victims of communist regimes are built and recognized as such throughout Eastern Europe. Scholarship about traumatic national pasts is significant as well,...

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