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Difficult Memories – key terms

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Päivi Salmesvuori

on 20 December 2016

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Transcript of Difficult Memories – key terms

Dark Heritage
Historical Truth Effect
Difficult Memories – key terms

Joint Workshop with three projects:

Living together with difficult memories and diverse identities 2015-2017
* Lapland's Dark Heritage
Traumatized Borders: Reviving Subversive Narratives of B/Order, and Other

Suzie Thomas, University of Helsinki

Project website and social media:

• Project blog: blogs.helsinki.fi/lapland-dark-heritage

• Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Laplands-Dark-Heritage/1739806009628668

• Twitter: @DarkLapland

• YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UC6NjPopBtMElzuCJvDdl5UA

• Instagram: www.instagram.com/dig_inari
• Storify of #InariDig storify.com/DarkLapland/inaridig

In our research project, we explore the concept of cultural heritage as a potentially ‘dark’ force. In other words, we are interested in how people choose to engage with the more dark, macabre, difficult and even painful elements of cultural heritage. We are frequently asked what we mean when we talk about ‘dark heritage’.
There are several terms that are closely connected to ‘dark heritage’, including ‘difficult heritage’, ‘contested heritage’, and ‘dark tourism’ (see for example Carr and Corbishley 2015 for brief discussion of different terms). Similar to dark heritage, ‘difficult heritage’ can relate to aspects of the past that may be difficult or painful to reconcile. According to Sharon Macdonald, it is "concerned with histories and pasts that do not easily fit with self-identities of the groups of whose pasts or histories they are part" (McDonald 2008: 9).

Thus, difficult heritage, like dark heritage, can open up challenges to self-image, or even threaten to open up social conflicts and controversies. Similarly, researchers have used the idea of ‘contested heritage’ or landscapes to acknowledge the differing perspectives that can affect different understandings or interpretations of the same event or period in history. This is not uncommon in areas where different communities have a history of conflict and disagreement, as might be seen for example in Northern Ireland (see McAtackney 2014).

The idea of ‘dark tourism’ appears to have originated with Malcolm Foley and J. John Lennon (1996: 195) as a means of recognizing the process of visiting, primarily as tourists, heritage sites connected with atrocity “for remembrance, education or entertainment”. Influenced by these and other scholars, Philip Stone (2006) developed a ‘spectrum’ of dark tourism, in which individual attractions may exhibit different degrees of ‘darkness’. Factors affecting the extent to which a tourist attraction is dark may include such variables as authenticity, and the extent to which the attraction has been commoditized for touristic consumption. The darkest sites are those that have the least tourism infrastructure and the worst atrocities associated with them; death camps are arguably the darkest of these sites (Stone 2006: 157).

There are clearly many overlaps between difficult, contested and dark heritage, although we would argue that – inspired by its sister term ‘dark tourism’ – dark heritage always has an element of physical conflict, destruction or other atrocity, which may include but also go beyond other, less physically violent or specific event-related, controversies. We also discuss ‘dark heritage’ specifically rather than ‘dark tourism’ in recognition that ‘dark’ heritage sites have more than just a touristic value. We recognize that the ‘dark’ aspects of the cultural heritage may be just one facet of the overall ‘value’ of the heritage however. Other aspects making the cultural heritage meaningful to people might include the geographical or temporal proximity between those who engage with it, and the historical events to which it relates.

Literature for further reading:
* Carr, Julie, and Mike Corbishley. Editorial. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 17(1): 1-3, 2015.
* Foley, Malcolm, and J. John Lennon, Editorial: Heart of darkness. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2(4), 195-197, 1996.
* Herva, Vesa-Pekka. Haunting Heritage in an Enchanted Land: Magic, Materiality and Second World War German Material Heritage in Finnish Lapland. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 1(2): 297-321, 2014.
* Herva, Vesa-Pekka, Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto, Oula Seitsonen and Suzie Thomas. “I have better stuff at home”: treasure hunting and private collecting of World War II artefacts in Finnish Lapland. World Archaeology, 2016 online first http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2016.1184586.
* Koskinen-Koivisto, Eerika, and Suzie Thomas. Lapland’s Dark Heritage: Responses to the legacy of World War II. In Helaine Silverman, Emma Waterton and Steve Watson (eds.). Heritage in action: making the past in the heritage. New York: Springer, 2016 in press.
* McAtackney, Laura. An archaeology of the troubles: the dark heritage of Long Kesh/Maze prison. OUP Oxford, 2014.
* MacDonald, Sharon Difficult Heritage: Unsettling History. Museums and Universal Heritage.History in the Area of Conflict between Interpretation and Manipulation. M.-P. Jungblut. (ed) Paris, International Committee for Museums and Collections of Archaeology and History, 8-15, 2008.
* Paasi, Anssi. Geographical perspectives on Finnish identity. GeoJournal 43(1): 41-50, 1997.
* Stone, Philip. A Dark Tourism Spectrum: towards a typology of death and macabre related tourist sites, attractions and exhibitions. TOURISM: An Interdisciplinary International Journal 54(2): 145-160, 2006.

Marianne Hirsch:
"The Generation of Postmemory" in
Poetics Today
29:1 (2008), 103–128.
Respectful Resistance
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