Bodies, bricks and Rwandan memorial architecture: an analysis of the merging of architectures of brick building and transformed bodies of the dead in the creation of the Rwandan genocide memorial
Laura Major (University of Edinburgh)
Paper short abstract:
This paper considers the Rwandan genocide memorial as a structure given meaning by the merging of the architectures of brick building and of bodies of the dead. Understanding how these things work together to produce the memorial is important in understanding why and for whom this form is pursued.
Paper long abstract:
The twenty years that have passed since the Rwandan genocide have been populated by an intense gathering together and "conserving" of the histories of the genocide. This paper concerns itself with a particular architectural aspect of this conservation process, focusing on memorial crypts containing bones of the dead. These bones, in their tens of thousands, are frequently stacked on shelving and in coffins in piles divided by type. The intention is that the genocide be writ upon them despite the little narrative linkage between these mortal remains and the lives of the deceased. This act of inscription is especially intriguing because it requires a determined act of destruction and of recreation of the corpse take place prior to interment. Through exhumation, disarticulation and depersonalisation these collectives offer a new kind of body in both material form and presence. Discussion will examine this process and the space of the memorial itself as a structure whose meaning is defined by a merging between inanimate brick and a reanimate dead. Understanding how these things work together to produce the memorial is important in understanding why these ends are pursued and for whom they are significant.
Ruined bodies and aging buildings: architecture, oblivion, decay