Memory Sites and Human Rights

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Overview

Why and how do we remember past atrocities and human rights violations? What is the role of memory sites in social reconstruction, transitional justice and democratisation? How do memory sites shape communities, societies, identities and nations?

As witnesses and testimonies of abuse and horror, memory sites aspire to build reflection, teaching and learning, critical memory and non-repetition. Memory is dynamic and constantly evolving, so memory sites function as places where to look at the past to better understand and shape the present and the future of a society and its approach to human rights. As "sites of conscience" drawing on history lessons, memory sites stimulate dialogue and healing, and inspire citizens' action.

This MOOC focuses on the role of memory sites in their crucial interplay with historical trauma, the reconciliation process, the chosen methods for dealing with the past, as well as with nation building dynamics and the shaping of societal identity.

 

Syllabus

 

Module 1 focuses on the conceptual framework behind memory sites. Starting from a reflection on why and what is important to remember, it then moves to discuss how memories are shaped and who is involved in 'building memory'. It will show the linkage between history, memory and human rights and the role of memorialization in reconciliation and social reconstruction.

Module 2 is dedicated to the objectives of memory sites, ranging from information and knowledge-sharing to the idea of providing evidence of abuses; from the role of memory sites for identity building/reconstruction and education to the ethical, legal and political challenges of the representation of horror.

Module 3 will focus on the aspects related to the 'design' of memory sites, thus dealing with format and content, use of testimonials and symbolic resources, artistic language and types of institutional approaches, stressing the artistic contextualization vis-à-vis the visitors' reactions and empathetic sentiments for past atrocities and abuses..