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195 Chapter 9 Memorialisation of Liberation War Heritage in Africa: An Appraisal of Some Selected Zimbabwean Landscapes of Cultural Memory in Mozambique and Zimbabwe Tapuwa R. Mubaya, Munyaradzi Mawere & Lovemore Mandima The past is everywhere. All around us lie features which, like ourselves and our thoughts, have more or less recognisable antecedents. Relics, histories, memories suffuse human experience. [. . .] Whether it is celebrated or rejected, attended to or ignored, the past is omnipresent (Lowenthal 1985: xv). Introduction Memorialisation of war experience has emerged as one of the primary phenomena of the late 20th and early 21st centuries (Login 2014). For Carman and Harding (1999), warfare has a long precedence stretching back into pre-history and the practice of constructing memorials to commemorate conflict (see also Borg 1991, Carman and Carman 2005, Carman and Carman 2006, Chaniotis 2012, Cooley 2012, Low 2012). It is worth noting that memorials which were established before 1850 especially in Europe were characterised spatially, by their physical proximity to the battle site or their location within religious institutions, and functionally, by their commemoration of the event itself or high ranking military figures. Admittedly, around 150 years ago, this process of commemoration underwent a perceivable shift, both in its geographical location, and in its focus. For instance, in the latter half of the 19th century, war memorialisation grew to encompass all those who had died (even in outside Europe, for example, in Africa) as a result of a conflict regardless of rank or station, and including civilian casualties (Login 2014). Surprisingly, in the last 20 years or 196 so, more memorials and museums (of history and/or memory) were established in comparison with the previous two centuries, thus, necessitating the need to undertake a broader, more detailed analysis of the issue (UNESCO 2014). Despite the long history of war and commemorative practices across the globe, the academic study of commemoration is a relatively recent development. It grew from increasing interest in the study of ‘memory,’ and in particular in ‘collective or social memory’ which became a central academic concern during the 1980s and beyond (Olick et al. 2011: 3; Erll and Nunning 2012: 1). While it is true especially with reference to Africa that the practice of erecting monuments to all those that had died in conflict is a distinct contemporary phenomenon, this phenomenon did not appear fully developed in its present form, nor should its current form be seen as static and unchanging. Rather, war memorialisation developed gradually, drawing on earlier commemorative and monumental forms in response to constantly changing sociopolitical circumstances (Login 2014). The urge to honour the dead and remember violent struggles is as prevalent as the impulse to try to repress terrible memories and move on with life. Societies around the world undertake memorial activities to preserve historical memory relating to traumatic events. In cultural and social studies much attention has been devoted to how memory crystallises into sites or places of memory, locales of collective remembering (Nora 1984). Memory in this sense is associated with a “re-collective” conception; it is considered as a conscious and wilful human process of recalling the past. For Nora (Ibid) the materiality of the place is not considered to be decisive (despite the presence of inscribed monuments and memorials); the crucial issue is the past event, a gone past, and the will to remember it through site embodiments. It is clear that when engaging with historic memorials a duality can arise between an object’s remembrance value and its heritage value. The active remembrance value relies on understandings of the object as a signifier of the events it was originally built to commemorate. But the time that has passed from its construction can give the memorial value as an object of heritage that has gained 197 new meanings and undergone multiple transformations throughout its history (Login 2014). These memorial sites now form part of a major tourist industry in many parts of the world such that the presentation of the tangible memorial as a heritage object necessarily has implications for its intangible remembrance value. Fundamentally, the presentation and interpretation of these memorial sites has limited their understanding to a singular narrative, perpetuating the role of the memorial as an object of remembrance rather than emphasising the multiple meanings they now carry as objects of heritage (Login 2014). Whilst the objects themselves have little intrinsic or artistic value, what makes them part of a shared heritage, as John Carman (1999) argues is the fact that they represent the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9789956763252
Related ISBN
9789956763726
MARC Record
OCLC
938324138
Pages
376
Launched on MUSE
2016-02-12
Language
English
Open Access
No
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