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Curating Resilient Memory and Reconfiguring War Heritage in Northeast and Southeast Asia

Sat, June 25, 10:30am to 12:20pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 111

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel Proposal Application


In the wake of recent commemorations marking 70 years since the end of WWII, this panel revisits how that war and other major wars in the Asia-Pacific have been interpreted and remembered in four different contexts: Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, and Cambodia. As postwar generations have inherited war memories without direct experiences, memories of these wars have been interpreted, rearranged and conveyed through diverse venues, including “dark tourism” sites historically associated with death and tragedy.

This comparative session alternates between analyses of cases from Northeast and Southeast Asia, raising questions about how reconfigurations of war heritage can be integrated or at odds with touristic development and the discourses and practices of reconciliation. The first paper examines the articulation of collective war memories in Japan through tourist and educational materials for Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Park. The second paper discusses Vietnam’s Con Dao Islands and the cultural and spiritual heritage associated with French and American prisons. The third paper explores South Korea’s Jeju April Third Peace Park as a site for countering the suppression of traumatic memory after decades of government censorship. The fourth paper analyzes how Cambodian artists after the Khmer Rouge have responded to reconciliation discourses of preservation with new image-making practices.

Focusing on relationships among historical education, creative production, and domestic and international tourism, this panel considers contradictions, challenges and prospects in the convergence of dark heritage and contemporary memory politics, exploring how diverse sites of war-related heritage and post-conflict reconciliation manifest the complex inheritance of traumatic memory.

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