Contesting Places, Spaces, and Stories
Edited By Ahmet Atay, Yea-Wen Chen and Alberto González
8. Displaced Memorials: Commemorating the “Comfort Women” in the United States
Columbus State University
“No understanding of history is innocent,” writes critical theorist Steven Best (1995) (p. xvi). And the same can be said of memory. The differences between the Marine Corp War Memorial located in Virginia and the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. in their designs and people’s responses to them, for example, show how memorials and monuments are created out of diverse needs and desires. When visualized, collective memories tend to be “conventionalized, because the image has to be meaningful for an entire group; simplified because in order to be generally meaningful and capable of transmission, the complexity of the image must be reduced as far as possible” (Fentress & Wickham, 1992, pp. 47–48). “By creating common spaces for memory,” as James Young points out, these public memorials and monuments “propagate the illusion of common memory” (Young, 1992, p. 6). Together with annual commemorative ceremonies and shared calendars, they often work as what Marita Sturken (1997) calls “technologies of memory,” rhetorical loci around which the national identity is often produced and reproduced.
Because these public memorials require considerable resources, they are often considered as the conduits for “official” narratives about the past. Concerned about the ways in which these official memorials perform continuous oppressions of the marginalized through conventionalizing and simplifying of memories, many scholars began exploring alternative sites of remembering beyond traditional and formally dedicated memorial spaces. For example, Smith and Bergman (2010) explore Alcatraz Island as...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.