WHOSE MEMORY HERE?: Response to Steve Zeitlin and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

I read both posts side by side as a dialogue on the meaning of “historical sites with powerful memories and associations.” Both brought me to the question of “whose memory is preserved here, and why?”

In my own experience of visiting sacred sites in India, I understood that such ‘sites of memory’ possess layers of memory and are frequently highly charged with political memory and therefore contested. This was certainly the case in Ayodhya.

Being Polish-American, I was moved by Barbara’s statement that the proposed memorial in Warsaw will be “remembering how they lived, a story of 1000 years.” Judaism in Poland has a long history, a memory that was lost to tragedy and needs to be ‘re-minded’ by both Poles and visitors.

Steve’s proposal for a ‘myen’ would work if we all stayed in our community of origins, but none of us have and so how would we account for changes in memory?

Both thought provoking examples.

One Comment

  1. hsunairi

    Commenting and adding on mkruszewska’s comment: Steve’s proposal for a ‘myen’ would work if we all stayed in our community of origins, but none of us have and so how would we account for changes in memory?

    I have been making documentary of American Mexican people who are following and practicing the Aztec Traditions by doing ritual dances, ceremonies and gathering with their community. I have been here and there documenting their rituals and events over a year and a half. Eddy, one of them I have become friends with had told me that practicing Aztec tradition gives them a new way to look at themselves within the American context, in which often Mexican origins are suppressed and marginalized. What he claims is that by getting in touch with the roots of Aztec, they as American Mexicans see their tradition and life rooted many parts of North America as territories of Aztec culture and I agree with that vision.

    Beyond the context of what they do, by seeing their activities and dances, it is really about strengthening the community spirit, celebrating new borns of the community, blessing each other and deepening the belief. I have witnessed countless times, they do it for themselves, not for a show or entertainment, but for their own spirit. I find it beautiful. For them, it is quite clear that they do this for their circumstances and roots.

    As for the festival, we as cross-cultural community with different background and different circumstances, maybe it is like how can we be a radar for finding myen through different places, cultures and roots and celebrate, learn and appreciate as if it is our own sacred property?

Leave a Reply