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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the increasing prevalence within cultural institutions for recognizing and mourning “public deaths,” specifically via the proliferation of memorial museums worldwide. Marking episodes of great violence resulting from genocide, terrorism, crimes against humanity, and state “disappearances,” these institutions aim to remember, educate, and advocate against the recurrence of such events. Within their exhibitions, favored modes of historical retelling highlight the personal biographies and stories of victims. Personal objects, photographs, and mementos are arranged within experiential spaces that narrate the course of events and often suggest psychic forms of trauma. Such exhibitions aim to create vivid and authentic visitor experiences that bring people together in new forms of shared memory formation. The personalization of victims of violent events aims to create empathy in visitors and a sense of transferability (“it could have been me”) in hopes of forging a stronger commitment toward tolerance and increased vigilance against persecution.

Keywords: memorialization, remembrance, personalization, violence, museology, exhibitions, collective memory, public history

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