From Patriotic to Transnational Memory – Reflections on the Memorial Landscape of Norway ca. 1990–2014
The Norwegian landscape of monuments and memorial sites was for many decades dominated by the monumental boom following World War II. Scattered all over the country, in cities and local communities, markers and monuments remind us of hardship, sacrifice and bravery during the German occupation. Together, and along with institutions like Norway’s Resistance Museum, they form a patriotic and unified image of the occupation years. In recent years new commemorative spaces have been added to this landscape, reflecting a heightened sensitivity to the complexities of the period (Fagerland 2014). A new ambiguity towards the past applies also to other historical periods and to other issues. New approaches shed light on repressed traumas and under-communicated histories and they address the audience in less authoritative and directive ways. In this chapter we exemplify and discuss some of the changes manifested at historical sites, in museum exhibitions and in memorial processes over the last couple of decades. Our argument is that the development corresponds, at least partly, to what Aleida Assmann calls a ‘shift in the basic grammar of collective memory’ (Assmann 2006: 219). So far the new approaches seem, however, to be an addition to more than a replacement of, traditional ways of commemorating the past. Further on, we argue that although pluralistic and nonauthoritative memorial approaches have a clear potential as tools in the service of democracy and the public, this potential is, as yet, only partly fulfilled.