Representation of Mass Atrocities in Imagined ‘Commemorative Arenas’

by Csaba Szilagyi

in Versus n. 119, Traces of Terror, Signs of Trauma, pp.71-91

Abstract (english)

Preserving the memories of the Srebrenica massacre is a complex
process informed by competing historical interpretations of the
past, collective memories split along an ethno-national divide,
as well as local and international political considerations. The
inauguration of the Srebrenica-Potocˇari Memorial and Cemetery
in 2003 marked the designation of an official, physical space
for public reburial and a memorial of the victims of the 1995
massacre. With it, the main issues that make the current memory
practices around Srebrenica problematic – such as disparate
collective narratives, reclaiming of territory for the dead, (de)
individualization of victims and perpetrators, vilification of ‘the
other’ – became even more visible.
The paper proposes to look at these controversial issues to see if
and how they acquire new meanings and interpretations within
the space of an unconventional memorial site. It will examine
the possibilities of representing and commemorating a recent
mass atrocity by bringing together relevant archival and forensic
evidence, audiovisual documentation, legal material and personal
memories at an imagined site of massacre and exhumation built
in the exhibition gallery of an archive.