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Symbols of suffering and silence memorialisation in Uganda and beyond

Blackmore, Kara (2020) Symbols of suffering and silence memorialisation in Uganda and beyond. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004417


This thesis consists of a collection of seven essays that address issues of representation, memorialisation and symbolic reparations. Employing a primarily ethnographic approach, it reveals different forms and functions of memory in the aftermath of mass violence. Together, these essays argue for a more nuanced way of understanding how governments, survivors, heritage practitioners, humanitarians, artists and development actors utilise conflict memories, sometimes revealing narrative gaps entrenched in silence. These insights are useful for a better conceptualisation of symbolic repair within the fields of transitional justice, critical heritage and memory studies. Each essay, addresses different geographical and material aspects of conflict memory to create a mosaic of perspectives with a primary focus on Uganda. The Ugandan case studies explore three regions of the country: the Luwero Triangle, Northern Uganda and the Rwenzori Mountain region. Each case shows the need to approach memory work with different types of evidence, including museum displays, monuments, material culture remains from humanitarian assistance, oral literature, sites of trauma, artworks and popular culture. Such evidence both informs the analysis and extends the kinds of data suitable for critical heritage research. Taken together, the essays in this thesis argue that in nations recovering from multiple violent conflicts, whose recovery is absent of holistic statedriven processes for memorialisation, it is critical to understand the everyday negotiations of memory as well as the artistic approaches to repair. Furthermore, the collection highlights the significant role that globalised systems of representation, assistance and peacebuilding have on memory projects within and outside the Ugandan context. Overall, this thesis constitutes a critique of the expectations placed on memory work to repair societies, given the contextual and political barriers to implementing conventional memory projects. By its end, it advocates for a less didactic and more dialogical approach to memorialisation, making space for meaningful work that does not mimic Euro-American models of remembrance.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2020 Kara Blackmore
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Sets: Departments > International Development
Supervisor: Allen, Tim

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