Place of Memory

In the article “Places of Memory”, the author writes about the sacralization of national imaginaries, the change of political regimes and the conflict over national places.

Looking at these examples the article goes on to discuss how we as humans remember things better when there is something physical that reminds us of that place or event.  I can attest to the validity of this statement since the main reason that I remember the city of Madison, Wisconsin so well is because of the place I lived.  That house allows me to remember my childhood there and that physical place makes it easier to remember.  This section does a good job discussing the fact that as a society we construct monuments to honor our past so that people better remember those events.  The best example of this would be Washington D.C. where we have many memorials and public spaces to honor the fallen and past wars.

The second part of this article is the section on the change in political regimes.  The article discusses the example of something as small as even changing the name of a street or public place can be a way for that political entity to establish a new order.  This works some times but in Taiwan the local government wanted the street names changed back to the old name since they thought the new ones reflected a sort of authoritarianism.  The common idea of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  I just think of the Willis tower in Chicago.  This tower used to be named the Sears tower and to this day that is what I still call it.  I understand that things like ownership and rights to names and such can dictate what a place is named and that goes to show that when there is a new political power in control they will attempt to erase the old and start with a new.

The last paragraph of this article talked about conflict over places of memory.  This could not be any more true than the crusades.  A series of holy wars that attempted to regain the “holy land”.  The wars were fought between the Islamic nations of the middle east and the Christian nations of Europe.  The other good example was the renaming of the Little Bighorn National Battlefield which was originally named Custer Battlefield National Monument.  In both these examples there was a controversy over space and who deserved to be there and that conflict at lease in the middle east is still going on even to this day.



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