Silencing memories: routes, monuments and heritages
Katja Hrobat Virloget (University of Primorska)
Nevena Škrbić Alempijević (University of Zagreb)
Aula 22
Tuesday 16 April, 9:00-10:45, 11:15-13:00 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

The processes of establishing a consensual collective memory include the contests between different groups for the hegemony of their memory and the obliteration of the "other". The aim of the panel is to identify the silenced parts of memory, reflect on changes, reasons and the effect of silence.

Long abstract:

This panel examines the process of silencing memories that occurs in periods of social changes, in everyday life and in the production of heritage. Although silence is a constitutive part of remembering, it has not yet been itself the object of extensive ethnological discussions. Silence can be a powerful means of communication, and a way to reach ethnological insights.

Our aim is to identify silent memories, but also to reflect on their transformations and reasons for silencing.

According to Halbwachs, individual memories that do not fit into the dominant image of the past are rejected and censured. The silencing of memories is frequent in nationalization processes that produce silenced "others" in defeated alternative political ideologies, religions, in colonial or other contested pasts, etc. Silence can be a consequence of disciplining memories and traumatic experiences, signaling vulnerability. It can also be a way of rewriting the past by omission and a mechanism of maintaining power in an (unbalanced) relationship: for instance, when keeping secrets from a researcher. We would like to ask in which ways individuals and groups move from silence to voicing their memories, and vice versa, and what are the effects of those movements?

Special attention will be given to silent memories in the frame of the study of migrations. The panel will also focus on monuments and heritage, perceived as material (or intangible) forms of memory that usually sustain the dominant patterns of remembrance. We invite ethnographically grounded and theoretical papers that discuss those processes.