What Remains. Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War

For many families the Vietnam War remains unsettled. Nearly 1,600 Americans—and more than 300,000 Vietnamese—involved in the conflict are still unaccounted for. In What Remains, Sarah E. Wagner tells the stories of America’s missing service members and the families and communities that continue to search for them. From the scientists who work to identify the dead using bits of bone unearthed in Vietnamese jungles to the relatives who press government officials to find the remains of their loved ones, Wagner introduces us to the men and women who seek to bring the missing back home. Through their experiences she examines the ongoing toll of America’s most fraught war.

Every generation has known the uncertainties of war. Collective memorials, such as the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, testify to the many service members who never return, their fates still unresolved. But advances in forensic science have provided new and powerful tools to identify the remains of the missing, often from the merest trace—a tooth or other fragment. These new techniques have enabled military experts to recover, repatriate, identify, and return the remains of lost service members. So promising are these scientific developments that they have raised the expectations of military families hoping to locate their missing. As Wagner shows, the possibility of such homecomings compels Americans to wrestle anew with their memories, as with the weight of their loved ones’ sacrifices, and to reevaluate what it means to wage war and die on behalf of the nation.

Author: Sarah E. Wagner

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The stone dictatorship

The Valley of the Fallen, between a black past and an uncertain future

The Valley of the Fallen was designed to cast the shadow of Franco’s dictatorship and perpetuate the power of the victors over the defeated. Neither the Transition nor Spanish democracy has managed to dispel the secrets and opacity surrounding a monument that is sadly unique in Europe today. How was its construction financed? Who were the slave workers who worked for a decade? Who are the spoils that crowd the crypts? What symbolism hides its architecture? Who is and what does the challenging prior of the order of monks guarding the monastery of the Valley think?

In this book, historian Queralt Solé and journalist Sílvia Marimon illuminate the darkness surrounding everything related to the Valley of the Fallen up to the present day with rigor and an eagerness to disseminate information. They ask themselves a question: once the controversy over the tomb of dictator Francisco Franco has been overcome, what should be the destiny and function of this place?

Authors: Sílvia Marimon y Queralt Solé

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Necropolitics

In Necropolitics, Achille Mbembe, a leader in the new wave of francophone critical theory, theorizes the genealogy of the contemporary world, a world plagued by ever-increasing inequality, militarization, enmity, and terror as well as by a resurgence of racist, fascist, and nationalist forces determined to exclude and kill. He outlines how democracy has begun to embrace its dark side—what he calls its “nocturnal body”—which is based on the desires, fears, affects, relations, and violence that drove colonialism. This shift has hollowed out democracy, thereby eroding the very values, rights, and freedoms liberal democracy routinely celebrates. As a result, war has become the sacrament of our times in a conception of sovereignty that operates by annihilating all those considered enemies of the state. Despite his dire diagnosis, Mbembe draws on post-Foucauldian debates on biopolitics, war, and race as well as Fanon’s notion of care as a shared vulnerability to explore how new conceptions of the human that transcend humanism might come to pass. These new conceptions would allow us to encounter the Other not as a thing to exclude but as a person with whom to build a more just world.

Author: Achille Mbembe

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Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions

Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions aims to move archaeological research concerning the Holocaust forward through a discussion of the variety of the political, social, ethical and religious issues that surround investigations of this period and by considering how to address them. It considers the various reasons why archaeological investigations may take place and what issues will be brought to bear when fieldwork is suggested. It presents an interdisciplinary methodology in order to demonstrate how archaeology can (uniquely) contribute to the history of this period.

Case examples are used throughout the book in order to contextualise prevalent themes and a variety of geographically and typologically diverse sites throughout Europe are discussed. This book challenges many of the widely held perceptions concerning the Holocaust, including the idea that it was solely an Eastern European phenomena centred on Auschwitz and the belief that other sites connected to it were largely destroyed or are well-known. The typologically , temporally and spatial diverse body of physical evidence pertaining to this period is presented and future possibilities for investigation of it are discussed. Finally, the volume concludes by discussing issues relating to the “re-presentation” of the Holocaust and the impact of this on commemoration, heritage management and education. This discussion is a timely one as we enter an age without survivors and questions are raised about how to educate future generations about these events in their absence.

 

Author: Caroline Sturdy Colls

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Fallen soldiers. The Transformation of the Memory of World Wars

The First World War was not simply an unprecedented human catastrophe, but the tragic event that would give rise to Nazism and its genocidal policies. In this book, George L. Mosse reveals the myth of the experience of war, which from the time of the French Revolution to the Second World War masked the horrors of war with a glorious, romantic and transcendental mantle. The cult of fallen soldiers, war memorials, the banalization of the massacre and the brutalization of life caused by the experience of the Great War allow us to understand, through a fascinating narrative, the drift of Europe towards mass death in the twentieth century.

 

Author: George L. Mosse

 

The past we look at: memory and image in the face of recent history

The essays gathered in this book constitute a fundamental and novel contribution both in the field of communication and in memory studies. Based on the analysis of the different ways of using images in the memory of post-dictatorial Argentina, the compilers not only delimit a problem, but also establish a new line of work by placing their object in the perspective of a multiplicity of approaches. The medium of this book is the language of and about all means of expression of memory: declaration, testimony, autobiography, photography, cinema, documentary, television.

Focusing on visual media, the essays in this book, with their diverse styles and approaches, attempt to understand the relationships between verbal language and image, history and memory, fact and fiction. With this mission, the book avoids falling into a trap that lurks in much of the contemporary bibliography on memory: to believe in the complete authenticity, at all times, of the witness’s voice. And he does not refrain from pointing out mitifications and compulsions to repetition in the process of remembering the disappeared through photography, film and television. In this sense, The Past We Look at is an essential contribution to thinking about and discussing the present.

 

Compilers: Claudia Feld y Jessica Stites Mor

 

Krieg und Gewalt in der europäischen Erinnerung. War and Violence in European Memory

More than 100 million people lost their lives to war, expulsion and genocide during the course of the 20th century. To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War on 11 November 2018, the Ruhr Museum in Essen is staging an exhibition entitled “Krieg. Macht. Sinn. War and Violence in European Memory”. This catalogue brings together articles and exhibits to illustrate the subject of war and its accompanying phenomena from a variety of angles.

Authors: Stefan Berger, Heinrich Theodor Grütter and Wulf Kansteiner

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Poetics of Absence

How to talk about the past when that same gesture is being co-opted and deactivated by power? This essay follows a red thread in contemporary visual culture to discover certain works that subvert the rules imposed by the so-called Transition culture to refer to the past. The “Poetics of Absence” is encrypted in them: These are subjective, unfinished, open and hybrid works between photography and documentary cinema, which use radical editing and re-appropriation techniques to destabilise the idea that the past can be recovered in a harmless way. By questioning the conception of the present as a smooth and problematic space, these works open cracks, as Walter Benjamin wanted, in the homogeneity of history. And in the writing of this essay.

 

Author: Isabel Cadenas Cañón

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Memory Laws, Memory Wars

Laws against Holocaust denial are perhaps the best-known manifestation of the present-day politics of historical memory. In Memory Laws, Memory Wars, Nikolay Koposov examines the phenomenon of memory laws in Western and Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia and exposes their very different purposes in the East and West. In Western Europe, he shows how memory laws were designed to create a common European memory centred on the memory of the Holocaust as a means of integrating Europe, combating racism, and averting national and ethnic conflicts. In Russia and Eastern Europe, by contrast, legislation on the issues of the past is often used to give the force of law to narratives which serve the narrower interests of nation states and protect the memory of perpetrators rather than victims. This will be essential reading for all those interested in ongoing conflicts over the legacy of the Second World War, Nazism, and communism.

Author: Nikolay Koposov

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GUIXÉ, Jordi, ALONSO, Jesús, and CONESA, Ricard (2019). Ten years of memory laws and policies (2007-2017)

In 2007, two laws were passed that marked a before and after in attempts to legislate on the effects of the traumatic past of the Civil War and Francoism. On the one hand, the Congress of Deputies approved the Law of Historical Memory and on the other, the Parliament of Catalonia gave the green light to the Law of Democratic Memorial. What have been their real effects? What consequences and reactions have they provoked? In the last legislature, memory policies have taken a new direction with the creation of a General Directorate of Historical Memory and the decision to exhume dictator Francisco Franco from his grave in the Valley of the Fallen. The impunity of the dictatorship’s crimes, the state of the mass graves, the treatment of Franco’s symbology or the role of the memorialist associations are themes that continue to be valid.

 

Authors: Jordi Guixé i Coromines, Jesús Alonso Carballés, and Ricard Conesa Sánchez

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