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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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Memorials that Lurk and Pounce (Gabriel Moshenska)

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gabriel moshenska

Expert in conflict archaeology and heritage, Gabriel Moshenska, explores the relationship between monuments and counter-monuments in the contested memorial landscape of Berlin.

Mapping an urban memorial landscape is an exercise in patchwork or bricolage. Official civic monuments are the most obvious, but the richness and depth of the memorial landscape is in the fragments, the oddities, the hauntingly absent and the lost and corrupt. Sometimes there are memorials that people would rather forget. For the flâneur, psychogeographer, or stalker of memorials, the assembly of these fragments into an experienced landscape is an emotional, embodied process. The local war memorial will present itself in a loud, busy civic space; the monument to a murdered ghetto is more likely pushed to a quieter, cooler margin. Encounters with memorial plaques and heritage signage are more discrete, didactic, declamatory. Absences – bombed buildings, gentrified districts, murdered communities – haunt the spaces they once occupied, but they mostly do so quietly, waiting to be noticed and brought into being. Fragments of personal memory, stories heard or read, are what we bring to the landscape, and we tend to take them away with us when we’re done. In these palimpsestic landscapes there are memorials that loom and memorials that fade into the background. I am interested in a particular kind: the memorials that lurk and pounce, creating jarring, unexpected encounters.

The best-known lurking, pouncing memorials are the Stolpersteine initiated in 1992 by artist Gunter Demnig. These small brass plaques,...

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