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On Commemoration

Global Reflections upon Remembering War

Edited By Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro

How, in the twenty-first century, can we do commemoration better? In particular, how can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction? In this book, a global roster of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, military veterans and scholars debate these questions and ponder the future of commemoration. They include the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, the award-winning novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, and the human rights lawyer and Gifford Baillie Prize-winner Philippe Sands. Polemics and reflections together with poetry and creative prose movingly illuminate a subject that speaks to our common humanity.

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Bearing Witness, Becoming Human: Cultural Memory, ‘Post-Truth’ and the Digital (Daniel O’Gorman)

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daniel o’gorman

Daniel O’Gorman, Research Fellow in English Literature at Oxford Brookes University, explores the impact of digital technologies on cultural memory and the future of historical witnessing.

In February 2019, a brief political row took place – mainly on Twitter – over the question of Winston Churchill’s legacy. The topic recurs in public debate every now and again, but this time social media enabled the promotion of a wider range of voices than usual, while also lending it a new virulence. Sparked by a fiery daytime television spat between Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan and Scottish Green Party MSP Ross Greer, a clip of which went viral on YouTube, Churchill’s role in the British historical imaginary became the subject of furious online debate for a week or two afterwards. Greer was on the show because he had responded to a Conservative Party tweet, commemorating Churchill on the anniversary of his death, by labelling him a ‘white supremacist mass murderer’.1 His comment referred to Churchill’s role in the Bengal famine of 1943, as well to the numerous racist statements made by the ex-Prime Minister in reference to indigenous people throughout his political career (particularly his much-cited instruction to use poisoned gas against the ‘uncivilised tribes’ in Northern India: in Churchill’s view, ‘a more merciful method than [the] high explosive shell’).2 In a display of typical cognitive ←59 | 60→dissonance, Morgan had tweeted that Greer’s statement was ‘grotesquely insulting’ mere moments before resorting to ad-hominem insults himself.3...

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