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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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Open Wounds: Commemorating the Colombian Conflict (Cherilyn Elston)

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cherilyn elston

Cherilyn Elston, a specialist in Colombian history, literature and culture, questions the role of commemoration in a state where violence is ongoing and highlights the plurality of both official and grassroots forms of commemorative practices in contemporary Colombia.

How and why does a society commemorate a conflict that is not yet over? How can opposing narratives of the past (and present) be reconciled in a way that appropriately commemorates violence, provides reparations to victims and ultimately leads to peace? These are the urgent questions being asked in Colombia. Home to a decades-long conflict that has involved multiple armed actors and left more than 8 million victims, the country is currently engaged in the momentous task of trying to come to terms with its long history of violence, even despite the complexities of defining the Colombian situation as ‘post-war’.

The 2016 peace accord between the Colombian government and the guerrilla group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) was a major step towards ending the more than half-century conflict. This historic agreement, after numerous failed attempts, not only paved the way for the laying down of arms of the country’s oldest and largest guerrilla group, but established the blueprint for a sophisticated and comprehensive transitional justice system that seeks to provide justice and reparations for victims, establish the truth of the conflict and guarantee non-repetition of violence. This system includes an official truth commission, special tribunals to try those accused of war crimes and...

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