chapter  8
21 Pages

Mexico City’S Memorial to the Victims of Violence and the FaÇADE Of Participation

WithBenjamin Nienass, Alexandra Délano Alonso

In response to the demands of families of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the narco-violence and the “War on Drugs” in Mexico, the outgoing administration of President Felipe Calderón built the Memorial to the Victims of Violence in Mexico City in 2012. While the memorial was designed by the architects Julio Gaeta and Luby Springall with a participatory audience in mind, its genealogy suggests a façade of participation that is not so much intended to bring more democratic legitimacy or open debate to the space, but to simply relieve decision-makers of accountability. In light of these shortcomings, some memory activists have decided to refuse any engagement with the memorial, while others have chosen to radically resignify the space. In this chapter, we suggest reading the struggle over the site of the memorial, in part, as a struggle over different notions of meaningful democratic participation in the public contestation of the past. We suggest that when mnemonic actors engage in struggles over sites of memory, they not only make claims about events in the past; they also, implicitly or explicitly, make claims about the functions of memorials as sites of persuasion and, specifically, about their relationship to democratic ideals and practices.