Photo Essay: Tropes of Memory

Photo Essay: Tropes of Memory Jens Meierhenrich and Martha Lagace The historian James Young, with his seminal book The Texture of Memory, may have inadvertently started an analytical trend wherein--in the context of the study of ´ collective violence--official memorials and otherwise privileged lieux de memoire, including memorial museums, are deemed worthier of investigation than everyday sites of social memory.1 Many a time, perhaps because they are located far from centers of power, informal sites of memory--what Paul Connerton recently called ``loci''--have fallen through the analytical net.2 This is unfortunate, because studying memory in the vernacular is particularly instructive in instances where contending narratives about a violent past abound but perhaps are not given full or any recognition in national and international debates. Post-genocide Rwanda, the subject of this photo essay, is a case in point, because ``memory is neither plural, nor openly contested'' there.3 ``The post-genocide state has a dominant role in setting limits on whose lives are to be remembered publicly and how.''4 Unfortunately, a growing literature on the politics of memorialization in postgenocide Rwanda has nevertheless prioritized the study of official memory at the expense of what the historian John Bodnar, in the American context, termed ``vernacular memory.''5 Most of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development University of Pennsylvania Press

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University of Pennsylvania Press
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Copyright © University of Pennsylvania Press
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2151-4372
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Abstract

Jens Meierhenrich and Martha Lagace The historian James Young, with his seminal book The Texture of Memory, may have inadvertently started an analytical trend wherein--in the context of the study of ´ collective violence--official memorials and otherwise privileged lieux de memoire, including memorial museums, are deemed worthier of investigation than everyday sites of social memory.1 Many a time, perhaps because they are located far from centers of power, informal sites of memory--what Paul Connerton recently called ``loci''--have fallen through the analytical net.2 This is unfortunate, because studying memory in the vernacular is particularly instructive in instances where contending narratives about a violent past abound but perhaps are not given full or any recognition in national and international debates. Post-genocide Rwanda, the subject of this photo essay, is a case in point, because ``memory is neither plural, nor openly contested'' there.3 ``The post-genocide state has a dominant role in setting limits on whose lives are to be remembered publicly and how.''4 Unfortunately, a growing literature on the politics of memorialization in postgenocide Rwanda has nevertheless prioritized the study of official memory at the expense of what the historian John Bodnar, in the American context, termed ``vernacular memory.''5 Most of

Journal

Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and DevelopmentUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Aug 7, 2013

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