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A future bereft of a past? Intramuros denying its ruins
(University of Warsaw)
Paper short abstract:
Intramuros, annihilated in the Battle of Manila and rebuilt only 40 years later, is now experiencing a period of renewed interest. Little remains to be touched or seen, yet it spurs the imagination. The stories which are told from these traces, however, often lead to forgetting the traumatic past.
Paper long abstract:
My paper is an exploration of the on-going process of reinterpreting and remaking the historical quarter of Intramuros in Manila. The city, annihilated almost entirely in the Battle of Manila and then rebuilt only 40 years later, is now experiencing a period of renewed interest among public and private institutions. With historical buildings being rethought and rebuilt, new museums being created, and new ideas arising for using the remaining heritage sites, the process of heritagization, and a possible gentrification, is under way.
The traces of the past have however been often forgotten and lost to new projects, such as plastering the original wall of the San Ignacio Church into a newly-built museum. Very little remains to be touched or seen, yet it spurs the imagination of those who narrate history. The stories which start from the material remnants of the past might take different routes.
Intramuros, even in today's form, brings back the traumatic memory of Spanish colonization, the killing of its inhabitants in the winter of 1945 and the annihilation of the city. Yet, as far as heritage efforts are concerned, there are very few initiatives willing to bring back these dark aspects of history. The focus seems to be more on forgetting it, and pushing the narrative more towards the bright vision of the Walled City: making it a tourist attraction and a hub for business. This enables eliciting a future bereft of the traumatic past or, one could say, a future bereft of a past at all.
Knowing Historical Traces, Eliciting Possible Futures