chapter  9
11 Pages

Post-conflict space: mediating memory and the parameters of identity

ByFiona MacLaren

Post-conflict space forms a particular and complex topography of place. A mnemonic landscape potently charged with divergent cultural, social, political and economic agendas, the relationship to space is experienced within physical, emotional and psychological parameters of place and identity. Spatial transformation is shaped by initiatives that strive to imagine, create and represent place beyond conflict. Urban regeneration, memorialization, cultural investment and historical representation are the contending factors in the physical re-shaping of the environment. In the discourse of directing change, these vying factors shape an altered physical and psychological landscape, able to preserve or erase spatial landmarks of history. The past is an integral component in the negotiation and determination of the future, and the extent to which historical representation is manifest in spatial form reveals the complexity of the post-conflict condition where essentialized versions of history belie the diversity of experience and multiplicity of social voice. Reflected in the instrumentality of memory, the dualism of remembering and forgetting interweaves the problematic engagement of a plurality of historical experience. As the events of conflict and trauma give way to a scarred and altered terrain, memory intersects the relationship of identity and place, whereby the dichotomy of remembering and forgetting becomes spatially manifest. Claimed and contested, memory is both barrier and point of access to a greater interpretation and understanding of the past, the processes of representation and memorialization that negotiate the meaning of the past to the future beyond conflict. Informed by theories within cultural geography, anthropology, architecture and visual culture, this chapter examines the triadic relationship of identity, place and representation to consider the concept of memory as a connective yet problematic medium that extends the reading and configuration of the post-conflict environment.