Studying the stream of consciousness at memorial sites

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Memorials are cultural artefacts through which people engage in socially shared modes of remembering and dialoguing with the collective past. The focus on materiality in social practices of remembering (Wagoner, Brescó & Awad, 2019) has resulted in a series of studies on the main changes memorials have undergone over the last century. Traditional memorials tend to represent heroes through a figurative style conveying a monological and official version of the past. They can be conceived as temples where death is redeemed and endowed with a transcendental meaning (viz., that of the Nation, the Revolution, the idea of Freedom, etc.). In contrast, today’s so-called counter-memorials (Young, 2016) feature a minimalist and abstract style that opens up the possibility for different interpretations and interactions with the site. In the absence of a clear official message, counter-memorials may be regarded as a forum, rather than a temple, where different voices and positions can meet. This paper explores the different possibilities and constraints created by counter-memorials by analyzing how individuals give meaning to their experience in these sites. More specifically, we are interested in exploring how people interact with counter-memorials and to what extent their minimalist style encourage a dialogue with the collective past. Results from fieldworks carried out at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin and the National 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero in New York will be presented and compared to results from a study conducted in a more traditional memorial, El Valle de los Caídos (The Valley of the Fallen) in Madrid. Participants were asked to visit the memorial by themselves using a subjective camera (subcam), a small portable device placed at eye level to record the participants' actions from their own perspective (Lahlou, 1999). Discussion will focus on whether counter-memorials, despite being spaces open to different meanings and voices, encourage consonant dialogue rather than promoting dissonant and generative dialogue (Hermans, 2018).
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventInternational Conference for Theoretical Psychology -
Duration: 19 Aug 2019 → …


ConferenceInternational Conference for Theoretical Psychology
Period19/08/2019 → …


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