From Space of Perpetration to Site of Memory. Forms of Representation

(PROMETEU/2020/059)

In line with the work on perpetrators of mass violence and their cultural representations, the object of this research project consists in analyzing the narrative and iconographic representation of emblematic sites of mass violence, as well as the resignification of these sites through memory politics, historical pedagogy, judicial trials and Human Rights culture. The research line of this project focuses on a comparative perspective on seven sites of perpetration located in four substantially different areas and contexts: Spain, Germany, Cambodia, and Latin America’s Southern Cone.

 

This comparative perspective allows us to study the role played by microspaces, the material artifacts, the museum’s layout and narrative (audioguides), the peripheral rooms and activities, the literary production (memoirs and testimonies, as well as the imaginary evocations, such as novels, poems, and so forth) and the iconography and its migration through the iconosphere, both synchronically (that is, between the media) and diachronically (that is, over time), stressing the moments of change.

 

The perpetration of a mass crime always occurs in a specific place. This place may possess a previous trajectory in a country’s history or be constructed ex nihilo by perpetrators for the carrying out of their actions. In the first case, the place must be restored and adapted; in the second, its establishment requires the work of experts who have a mental picture of the deeds to be carried out and the specific competences to do so.

 

Consequently, we understand these sites as crystallizations of the crime scene in which a huge variety of actors take part. Given that the use of these sites of repression and crime is prolonged over time, they are also fit to host complex daily life, whose central axis is violence, but which also entails other forms of interaction. The meticulous study of these sites sheds light on the mechanics of violence and political repression, its ideological permeation, but also on the psychological or psychosocial dimensions.

 

The object of our research is to analyze the conceptual frames each space of perpetration is inserted into, taking into account their inscription in the form of a national and/or globalized memory, and thus reflecting the changes of a particular society.