[URBANTH-L] CFP: Remembering Totalitarianism: The Redemption of Former Rule in the Built Environment

Angela Jancius jancius3022 at comcast.net
Sun Oct 18 16:19:18 EDT 2009

From: Mia Fuller <miafuller at gmail.com>

Call for papers: 1st International Meeting, European Architectural History Network (EAHN)
June 17-20, 2010
Guimarães, Portugal
deadline for abstracts: October 30, 2009

Remembering Totalitarianism: The Redemption of Former Rule in the Built Environment

The practice of damnatio memoriae - the deletion of all traces of a previous ruler - dates to antiquity. There is no such simple approach, though, to the re-use or re-naming of such vestiges in the built environment. In the 20th and early 21st centuries - in the aftermath of right- and left-wing regimes of total rule, from Spain to Estonia - issues of preservation and commemoration, rather than erasure, have become lightning rods for political sentiment. Only in Germany are signs of terminated totalitarianism absolutely forbidden; alternatively, in France, the Vichy regime has been collectively swept under the rug perhaps even more effectively than by constitutional decree. But in numerous other post-fascist and post-communist settings, emblematic government buildings and monuments remained. These have sometimes been re-inscribed as counter-totalitarian, or more often treated as though they were unimportant, neutral signs of a defeated tyranny; and with the passing of living memory, new generations have indeed seen them as such.

Since 1989, however, in an increasing number of instances citizens have demanded the retention, even the honoring of constructions identified with their own past subjugation - from one point of view - or former glory and better rule than today's - from another. In a post-totalitarian Europe, in other words, the meaning of politically charged buildings is up for grabs more than ever before. This session aims to present case studies to this effect, and beyond that, to develop a comparative framework for such studies. Can we consider the protection of relics of Italy's fascist past - architectural and monumental, much in evidence and increasingly restored rather than demolished - as similar to the epic statuary and massive architecture of the former Soviet bloc? Are there similarities in the motivations and mechanisms for such preservation, and even renewed political consecration? And if so, does this suggest that the rehabilitation of atrocious collective memory is sometimes preferable to the denial of such recollection altogether? Papers should address the delicate balance of selective collective memory in the built environment, but they need not be limited to modern or contemporary cases, nor to strictly national or governmental topics.

Please send paper proposals and short CVs by email to: Prof. Mia Fuller, Italian Studies Department, University of California, 6303 Dwinelle Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-2620, USA, Fax number 1. 510. 642. 6220, Email: miafuller at gmail.com.

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