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Commemorating and ForgettingChallenges for the New South Africa$
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Martin J. Murray

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780816682997

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816682997.001.0001

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Collective Memory in Place

Collective Memory in Place

The Voortrekker Monument and the Hector Pieterson Memorial

(p.71) 4 Collective Memory in Place
Commemorating and Forgetting

Martin J. Murray

University of Minnesota Press

Focusing particular attention on two sites of memory – the Voortrekker Monument and the Hector Pieterson Memorial – enables us to critically examine both the parallels and divergent trajectories in these different modes of commemoration. The Voortrekker Monument marked the power of Afrikanerdom at the height of the political confidence in the National Party as the vehicle of (white) national identity. Once a messenger of power, it has become a symbol of the failed promise of white minority rule. Once a powerful marker of triumph, it has become symbol of hubris. In contrast, the Hector Pieterson Memorial is an exemplary expression of what Maria Tumarkin has called a traumascape, or a distinctive category of place that stands witness to terrible acts of tragedy, and as a result inadvertently becomes synonymous with the past events themselves. Much more than merely the physical setting for tragedy, traumascapes are cathartic locations, transformed psychically by suffering, grief, and loss. They have become essential parts of people’s experience of mourning, remembering, and making sense of the traumatic events that took place there.

Keywords:   Collective memory and selective forgetting, Contemporary (post-apartheid) South Africa, Heritage and tourism studies, Commemorative practices, Monuments and memorials, Museums and public exhibitions, Thanotourism, Traumascapes

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