Remembering Youthful Dead in the Wake of Albania's Socialist and Post-Socialist Periods
Kailey Rocker (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper, I explore the visual mourning work of remembering Albania's youthful dead in the wake of the country's socialist and post-socialist periods and how this mourning work can become a means of navigating the messy convergence of epochal shifts.
Paper long abstract:
In 2016, the names and ghostly images of recently deceased individuals began to appear throughout the streets of Albania. The stenciled image of a young opposition activist who died in a prison in Prizren, Kosovo, found its way from Prishtina to Tirana. Likewise, another image of a young man who died working in a landfill outside of Tirana appeared around the city. Since, young activists and independent political organizations have used graffiti to commemorate other recently deceased on the sides of buildings, outside shop windows, and across from cafes. At the same time, the new Authority for Information on Documents of the Former State Security has embarked on a journey to commemorate the death of children in the 1940s and 1950s at one of Albania's former internment camps through the creation of a memorial and museum at the site itself. Apart from their temporality, both types of mourning work—young activists' graffitied reminders of contemporary deaths and a state institution's commemoration of children who died at the turn of Albania's socialist period—demonstrate a similar technology of remembering the youthful dead today, one based on the importance of identity. In this paper, I explore the visual mourning work of remembering Albania's youthful dead, contextualizing these visual and memorial encounters within the wake of Albania's socialist and post-socialist periods. All of these bodies—contemporary and past deceased, institutional and independent activists—demonstrate the messy convergence of epochal shifts and how mourning work can become a means of navigating them.