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Über dieses Buch

If societies have only memories of war, of cruelty, of violence, then why are we called humankind? This book marks a new trajectory in Memory Studies by examining cultural memories of nonviolent struggles from ten countries. The book reminds us of the enduring cultural scripts for human agency, solidarity, resilience and human kindness.



1. Introduction

Our name is humankind, not humancruel. Yet, it is sometimes difficult to recognize our kindness with war memorials that dominate public spaces and a relentless culture of human atrocity and death depicted 24 hours a day on world news. Is it then that world cultures remember violence and trauma but not human resilience, struggle and agency? Or is it that the widespread memorialization of war exploits and heroism has been so dominant in the commemoration of valuable pasts as to completely submerge the cultural memories of struggle and agency in nonviolent1 contexts? Certainly the field of memory studies has given a great deal of emphasis to examining the cultural memories of war and atrocity whereas the cultural memories of nonviolent struggle remain little examined. Implicit in this foregrounding of violence and trauma is a concern with violence in the form of warfare on the one hand (with its ever-present potential for heroic action) and with victimhood and lack of agency on the other hand. This book foregrounds an alternative line of memory work, one in which the linkage between struggle and violence is disrupted and agency comes to be associated with the rejection of violence. This is not to deny the significance of memories of war and atrocity as these are culturally inscribed by both perpetrators and victims in various modes and sites of enactment. It is, however, an attempt to call scholarly attention to cultural arenas in which human agency and moral vision find their expression in nonviolent action that transforms social landscapes and remakes human histories.
Anna Reading, Tamar Katriel

2. Gandhi’s Salt March: Paradoxes and Tensions in the Memory of Nonviolent Struggle in India

On 12 March 1930, Mahatma Gandhi, accompanied by 78 followers embarked on a march of more than 200 miles from his Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad to the seaside village of Dandi to commence a nonviolent campaign whose goal was to defy the salt tax and the British Government’s monopoly over salt collection and manufacturing. ‘Next to air and water’, Gandhi explained,
salt is perhaps the greatest necessity of life. It is the only condiment of the poor. … There is no article like salt outside water by taxing which the State can reach even the starving millions, the sick, the maimed and the utterly helpless. The tax constitutes therefore the most inhuman poll tax that ingenuity of man can devise. (Gandhi, 1999b, p. 349)
Ornit Shani

3. ‘A Modest Reminder’: Performing Suffragette Memory in a British Feminist Webzine

As part of a broader international struggle, the British votes for women campaign of the mid 1800s to late 1920s continues to fascinate feminist and nonfeminist audiences alike. Over one hundred years since suffragettes first shook Edwardian society with their blend of daring direct actions and publicity stunts, the movement has been thoroughly commemorated, discussed, and mobilized – from grassroots celebrations to the authorizing discourses of the State. With the passing of generations, this once notorious and sometimes violent struggle has been transformed into a symbol of modernity and civilization. Whilst wings of the movement were seen as performing ‘outrages’ at the time – including property destruction, arson and bombings – these groups have since been folded into the nation’s mythologized story of its democratic past: recuperated and domesticated so as to be mobilized as political capital (Chidgey, 2013). More broadly, the women’s suffrage movement continues to be reinvigorated and reinvested with meanings by a range of memory agents today. Such is the movement’s currency as a political symbol in recent times.
Red Chidgey

4. Krieg dem Kriege: The Anti-War Museum in Berlin as a Multilayered Site of Memory

Museums are prominent sites of memory in contemporary cultures (Nora, 1989). They make memory sensible, collectible and transferable through the objects, documents and images on display along with the discursive practices attending their exhibition (Katriel, 1997). According to Tony Bennett, museums give rise to particular forms of ‘civic seeing’ in which ‘the civic lessons embodied in those arrangements are to be seen, understood and performed by the museum’s visitor’ (2011, p. 263). In their conserving and conservative capacity for showing what is precious (or abominable) in cultural legacies (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, 2000), they can also give voice to an explicitly mobilizing agenda, turning the museum into a tool for social advocacy. As such, they do not only provide knowledge about the past but also promote a sense of ‘epistemic responsibility’ (Linell and Rommetveit, 1998) whereby knowledge prefigures action.
Irit Dekel, Tamar Katriel

5. Film as Cultural Memory: The Struggle for Repatriation and Restitution of Cultural Property in Central Australia

My contribution to this volume reflects on how the Strehlow filmworks – the ethnographic films made by TGH Strehlow in the middle of the 20th century – intersect with the idea of repatriation. The aim is to invoke a number of questions that relate to the recovery of cultural memory and the maintenance of cultural heritage through film. At the heart of this inquiry are questions about the provenance and process of collection of the cultural materials now held by the Strehlow Research Centre (SRC). There has been, for many years up to the present, an implied concern with how repatriation would be enacted with the collection. The process has undergone a major shift by the introduction of digital technologies as a means of effecting digital repatriation and in this fashion overcoming some of the barriers that have historically been said to exist in repatriating physical objects from collecting institutions.
Hart Cohen

6. Remember the Russell Tribunal?

In an attempt to illustrate the origin of, as well as the reason for, collective forgetting, Paul Connerton (2008) begins his article ‘Seven Types of Forgetting’ by emphasizing that intellectual debate on the subject has suffered immensely from the fact that we attribute negative connotations to forgetting: forgetting equals failure, failure to remember; and remembering, on the other hand, is somewhat like honouring an obligation, and therefore constitutes success. By that logic, to speak of things forgotten would mean pointing out failures; the practice would entail inherent critique of a failed memory agent who could be identified through ‘gaps’ in the narrative.
David Torell

7. Peace and Unity: Imagining Europe in the Founding Fathers’ House Museums

Successive attempts to unify Europe have been characterized by unprece dented levels of violence – ranging, for example, from the wars of religion in the 17th century to struggles for territorial and racial unification since the 18th century. It is therefore not surprising that a peace-narrative, i.e. a narrative of nonviolent unification, has been present in the project of European integration since its inception in the immediate post-war years. Yet, this narrative has often taken a background role vis-à-vis an emphasis on economic utility. Since the late 1970’s and due to weakening legitimacy and lack of popular appeal, the issue of constructing a popular European identity has, however, been placed on the agenda of what is now the European Union (EU). Thus, an increasing shift from grounding the legitimacy of European integration in economic benefit towards a self-perception of the project as one of peaceful unification can be witnessed. The post-war unification of Europe is, in other words, portrayed as the victory over violence and war, something which was acknowledged when the EU received the 2012 Nobel Peace prize for transforming ‘a continent of war into a continent of peace’ (Nobel, 2012).
Bernhard Forchtner, Christoffer Kølvraa

8. Singing for My Life: Memory, Nonviolence and the Songs of Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp

I am singing as I write this. For more than 30 years songs from Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in the UK have been an important part of my personal memories of nonviolent political struggle. In this chapter I examine the articulations of my personal memories of Greenham Common Women’s Camp within and through the wider cultural and digital memories of what became one of the most internationally known peace camps in the 1980s against nuclear weapons towards the end of the Cold War. In particular, I examine how the cultural memories of nonviolent struggle are articulated through the songs that Greenham Common women created and shared that have since become further globalized through digital cultures. I explore the memories of the collective forms of cultural production embedded in the songs as well as the images and language of nonviolence present in some of the songs. I draw on a personal archive that I collected in 1987 as part of an honours thesis at the University of York (Reading, 1987) as well as the publicly available digital archives of the songs articulated through online websites, and the re-embodied memories of women reconnected through social networks that include Facebook and Youtube. I explore how the ‘connective memories’ (Hoskins, 2009) of Greenham Common’s Women’s Peace Songs are articulated through the combined dynamics of globalization and digitization conceptualized here and elsewhere in my work as ‘the globital memory field’ (Reading, 2011a).
Anna Reading

9. Who Owns a Movement’s Memory? The Case of Poland’s Solidarity

It is August of 1980. The Lenin shipyards in Gdansk, Poland are about to erupt into worker protest, as food prices escalate. In a system built on a philosophy of worker ownership, free trade unions are — ironically — illegal. Veteran crane operator Anna Walentynowicz raises her voice about management abuses — and loses her job. Workers rally and declare a strike. Electrician Lech Wałe¸sa scales a 12-foot wall to join the workers -and assumes the leadership mantle. From 17,000 protesters in Gdansk, to local university student occupations, to nationwide sympathy strikes across the country, to the Solidarity (‘Solidarność’) trade union that draws ten million members plus countless fellow travellers globally, this remains among the largest social movements on record. Intellectual activists Bronisław Geremek, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, and Adam Michnik labelled Solidarity a ‘self-limiting revolution’ — (using nonviolence and eschewing a full-scale popular revolt to wrest state power) (Staniszkis, 1986). This movement would help usher in the people-power sentiment across the Eastern Bloc that would culminate with the domino-style collapse of seven state-communist systems across Central and Eastern Europe symbolized by the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall (Kenny, 2002) — a historically unprecedented achievement for a nonviolent revolution.
Susan C. Pearce

10. Documenting South Asian American Struggles against Racism: Community Archives in a Post-9/11 World

On 5 August 2012, a white supremacist neo-Nazi gunman stormed a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six worshippers. The horrific attack was only one of thousands of acts of domestic terrorism directed at Sikh and Muslim communities — indeed at all South Asian communities regardless of faith — across the US in the wake of 11 September 2001.1 As interfaith groups across the US organized vigils to memorialize the Oak Creek victims, one grassroots memory institution, the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) (, launched an outreach effort linking the community’s historic struggles for equality to ongoing activism against racism, Islamophobia, and militarism. First, SAADA sidestepped divisive politics between South Asian Americans of various religious, national, regional, and class affiliations by asserting an inclusive South Asian American identity rooted in a common past. Next, SAADA promoted the use of historical materials in its collection that document the century-old history of Sikhs in the US, firmly rooting the community in American history and linking past struggles for citizenship with the politics of today. Finally, SAADA actively solicited materials documenting community responses to the Oak Creek attack, building an archive of solidarity for future use.
Michelle Caswell

11. The Wall Must Fall: Memory Activism, Documentary Filmmaking and the Second Intifada

The violent conflict over the Occupied Palestinian Territories has gripped world attention for decades. In recent years, the daunting image of the Separation Barrier [hence, the Wall] built by Israel, mostly on Palestinian lands, and which combines a wall, a fence and other impediments to free passage along its route (Dolphin, 2006), has stood out as an icon of enforced separation between Israelis and Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). At the same time, the nonviolent struggle against the building of the Wall, and the occupation regime more generally, launched by the Palestinians during the second Intifada (uprising) in the early 2000s, has been largely overlooked by Israeli and international mainstream media.
Tamar Katriel, Yifat Gutman

12. Remembering to Play/Playing to Remember: Transmedial and Intramedial Memory in Games of Nonviolent Struggle

For the wider culture, videogames and violence are indelibly linked. The mainstream media frequently constructs videogames as vehicles for the unfettered representation of violent acts, which in turn encourage violent acts and aggression, or at least feed into a wider culture of aggression. Indeed, a number of academic and non-academic commentators have identified a propensity toward violence in terms of the ways in which videogames represent the world, or indeed construct fantasy worlds, and in terms of how game mechanics enable user interaction with these worlds (Holmes, 2002; Ito, 1998).
Colin B. Harvey


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