Disaster as historical and community heritage: memory, management and fluid landscapes of the 1963 Vajont Dam disaster
Claudia Merli (Uppsala University)
Michele Filippo Fontefrancesco (University of Gastronomic Sciences)
Paper short abstract:
Survivors of the 1963 Vajont Dam disaster make of memory the foundational heritage of their communities. Individual and collective stories cut across people’s experiences and roots, making of memory a problematic legacy for the contemporary re-construction of identities.
Paper long abstract:
Memory of the 1963 Vajont Dam disaster is expressed in both intangible and material forms that require management in order to be transmitted to the following generations. Survivors preserve histories of the alpine tsunami triggered by the collapse of Mount Toc into the dam reservoir, and which erased villages along the Piave’s valley and torn away mountain hamlets along the Vajont reservoir, leaving behind approximately 2000 dead. But how do those who did not experience the disaster ‘remember’ it? The local landscapes are punctuated by remaining infrastructures and memorialisation of relevant sites, dominated by the menacing presence of the intact dam. Thousands of visitors every year travel to the region to attend commemorative events, walking the places of the disaster, entering museums and cemeteries, often accompanied by local guides (some of them provincial forest park guides, some of them survivors, others who attend specific training to inform the visitors). Contending histories about individual and collective plural memories cut across people’s experiences of the past and present Vajont, making of memory a problematic legacy for the historical and contemporary re-construction of local identities. Multidisciplinary research conducted in the area evidenced the transience and fluidity of intersecting territorial and experiential landscapes.
Anthropology of re-construction: exploring and thinking the remaking of broken worlds [Disaster and Crisis Anthropology Network]