Commemoration lies at the poetic, historiographic, and social heart of human community. It is how societies define themselves and is central to the institution of the city. Addressing the complex ways that monuments in the United States have been imagined, created, and perceived from the colonial period to the present, Commemoration in America is a wide-ranging volume that focuses on the role of remembrance and memorialization in American urban life. The volume’s contributors are drawn from a spectrum of disciplines—social and urban history, urban planning, architecture, art history, preservation, and architectural history—and take a broad view of commemoration. In addition to the making of traditional monuments, the essays explore such commemorative acts as building preservation, biography, portraiture, ritual performance, street naming, and the planting of trees. Providing an overview of American memorialization and the impulses behind it, Commemoration in America emphasizes a universal tendency for individuals and groups to use monuments to define their contemporary social identity and to construct historical narratives. The volume shows that while commemorative acts and objects affect the community in fundamental ways, their meaning is always multivalent and conflicted, attesting to both triumphs and tragedies. Constituting a vital part of both individual and national identity, commemoration’s contradictions strike at the core of American identity and speak to the importance of remembrance in the construction of our diverse national cultural landscape. Contributors: Jhennifer A. Amundson, Judson University * Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina State University Libraries * Thomas J. Campanella, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill * Glenn T. Eskew, Georgia State University * Glenn Forley, Parsons / The New School for Design * Sally Greene, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill * Alison K. Hoagland, Michigan Technological University * Lynne Horiuchi, University of California, Berkeley * Ellen M. Litwicki, SUNY Fredonia * David Lowenthal, University College London * Mark A. Peterson, University of California, Berkeley * Richard M. Sommer, University of Toronto * Dell Upton, University of California, Los Angeles
World War I marked the first war in which the United States government and military took full responsibility for the identification, burial, and memorialization of those killed in battle, and as a result, the process of burying and remembering the dead became intensely political. The government and military attempted to create a patriotic consensus on the historical memory of World War I in which war dead were not only honored but used as a symbol to legitimize America's participation in a war not fully supported by all citizens. In this book, the author unpacks the politics and processes of the competing interest groups involved in the three core components of commemoration: repatriation, remembrance, and return. This book emphasizes the inherent tensions in the politics of memorialization and explores how those interests often conflicted with the needs of veterans and relatives.
From Book's Foreword: It is our privilege to submit the Final Report of the Jamestown 400th Commemoration Commission, created by Act of Congress (Public Law 106-565) and signed into law by the President of the United States on December 23, 2000. Our report summarizes the extraordinary story of America's 400th Anniversary, an 18-month program of commemorative activities and events that afforded Americans the opportunity to honor their nation's beginning at Jamestown and reflect upon the vision and values that define the world's oldest republic. The anniversary program was a resounding success. We wish to express our appreciation to the President and the Congress, and ultimately the American People, for the vigorous support we received throughout the course and planning and executing the commemorative program. We are especially grateful for the singular honor of serving the Commission. The 400th anniversary commemoration produced stunning new discoveries, significant new scholarship, impressive new interpretive facilities, and illuminating new educational initiatives that will continue to enhance our understanding of the remarkably consequential convergence of man and nature in the Chesapeake region four centuries ago. Anniversary-related programs and activities increased public awareness of the foundational importance of the Jamestown settlement and Virginia colony of our nation's history.
In a compelling inquiry into public events ranging from the building of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial through ethnic community fairs to pioneer celebrations, John Bodnar explores the stories, ideas, and symbols behind American commemorations over the last century. Such forms of historical consciousness, he argues, do not necessarily preserve the past but rather address serious political matters in the present.
Commemorative practices are revised and rebuilt based on the spirit of the time in which they are re/created. Historians sometimes imagine that commemoration captures history, but actually commemoration creates new narratives about history that allow people to interact with the past in a way that they find meaningful. As our social values change (race, gender, religion, sexuality, class), our commemorations do, too. We Are What We Remember: The American Past Through Commemoration, analyzes current trends in the study of historical memory that are particularly relevant to our own present – our biases, our politics, our contextual moment – and strive to name forgotten, overlooked, and denied pasts in traditional histories. Race, gender, and sexuality, for example, raise questions about our most treasured myths: where were the slaves at Jamestowne? How do women or lesbians protect and preserve their own histories, when no one else wants to write them? Our current social climate allows us to question authority, and especially the authoritative definitions of nation, patriotism, and heroism, and belonging. How do we “un-commemorate” things that were “mis-commemorated” in the past? How do we repair the damage done by past commemorations? The chapters in this book, contributed by eighteen emerging and established scholars, examine these modern questions that entirely reimagine the landscape of commemoration as it has been practiced, and studied, before.
Memorials are proliferating throughout the globe. States recognize the political value of memorials: memorials can convey national unity, a sense of overcoming violent legacies, a commitment to political stability or the strengthening of democracy. Memorials represent fitful negotiations between states and societies symbolically to right wrongs, to recognize loss, to assert distinct historical narratives that are not dominant. This book explores relationships among art, representation and politics through memorials to violent pasts in Spain and Latin America. Drawing from curators, art historians, psychologists, political theorists, holocaust studies scholars, as well as the voices of artists, activists, and families of murdered and disappeared loved ones, Politics and the Art of Commemoration uses memorials as conceptual lenses into deep politics of conflict and as suggestive arenas for imagining democratic praxis. Tracing deep histories of political struggle and suggesting that today’s commemorative practices are innovating powerful forms of collective political action, this work will be of great interest to students and scholars of international relations, Latin American studies and memory studies.