University of Cambridge

CRIC Project, Cambridge workshop: Do Memorials Matter?

Do memorials matter? If so in what way?

This film shows some of the wide ranging and strongly held public views in Cambridge on memorials and anniversary events; which are relevant, valued and used.

With preparations for the 2014 anniversary well underway, CRIC Director Dr Marie Louise Stig Sorensen, from the University of Cambridge said it was a particularly relevant time to hear from the public.
More than three hundred people got involved over a fortnight, discussing and posting their opinions in memory boxes placed around Cambridge. A cross section of ages was targeted, with college students providing some of the more unexpected reactions . At the final public workshop, the boxes were opened, answers unwrapped and the research process discussed.
The CRIC project has examined the reconstruction of societies after war through case studies in Europe at symbolic sites such as Srebrenica, Dresden, Verdun and Gernika. The role of memorials and anniversary events is seen as central to understanding how memories of conflict are kept alive and influence recovery from loss and trauma. CRIC research has documented the impact when this heritage is manipulated to serve changing ideological and political needs.
Dr Sorensen says “the way war is interpreted in public influences our understanding of that conflict. It is important to recognise that memorial practices have a number of outcomes. Instead of releasing societies from a legacy of violence, they can cement divisions, thereby fueling further conflict ”
CRIC researchers gave presentations with examples of the selective versions of history memorials can transmit, the long term destructive effects when memorials “take sides” after conflict and the continuing upheaval caused to one city (Dresden) in the struggle over conflicting interpretations of the its wartime suffering.
For more information on this , one of the most “problematic” remembrance cultures in Europe today see CRIC’s Dresden youtube film. For examples of the changing interpretations of disputed heritage see, the Isted Lion and Bosnia youtube films.
The CRIC research project is directed from the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge and funded from the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme.

Camera and editing: Simon Keating, Bitesize films
Animation: Prosper Unger-Hamilton
Copyright: CRIC research project

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