Centre for Research in Communication and Culture

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19 November 2021

Globalized memorial museums - Traveling memories and musealization trends

Presented By Dr Ljiljana Radonić for the CRCC Seminar Series

About this event

The “universalization of the Holocaust” has established the Shoah as a historical reference point legitimizing a global moral imperative to respect human rights. Much has been written about the ostensible “globalization of memory”, but as yet no genuinely global comparative study systematically confronting this hypothesis with the representations of atrocities exists. My ERC project on “Globalized Memorial Museums. Exhibiting Atrocities in the Era of Claims for Moral Universals” examines 50 memorial museums on four continents dealing with a) the WWII period in the US, Israel, Europe, China, and Japan; and b) recent genocides in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Scholars claim that “globalized” memorial museums reflect new moral standards and a new language of commemoration, but what is the price of the decontextualization in the name of moral universals? I analyze how travelling memories and travelling musealization techniques translate into the national context and how this appropriation transforms the “downloaded” traveling tropes according to the needs of national memory politics and identity-creation. I distinguish between references to international trends on the following levels: aesthetics like exhibiting dark rooms and the names of the victims written in white letters against the dark background; musealization techniques like the inclusion of individual victims, their private photographs, biographical objects and testimonies; content like incorporation of negative memory of crimes committed, not suffered by one’s own community – and mere verbal references to “our own Holocaust”.

Ljiljana Radonić heads a project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) on “Globalized Memorial Museums. Exhibiting Atrocities in the Era of Claims for Moral Universals” at the Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. She wrote her “habilitation” on the World War II in Post-Communist Memorial Museums (Berlin: De Gruyter 2021) at the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna where she also has been teaching since 2004. She was visiting professor at Gießen University in 2015 and at the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Graz in Austria in 2017. Her PhD dealt with the “War on Memory. Croatian Memory Politics between Revisionism and European Standards” (Frankfurt: Campus 2010).

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