This paper will explore the role of memories of historical violence in the articulation of collective identities by tracing the use and invocation of the physical sites at which historical violence took place. Through this paper, I hope to delineate the shifting modes and interfaces by which the sites have formed and are formed by the historical violence and its memory. Taking the sites of the Highland Clearances in Scotland as a case study for this paper, I draw on a growing area of cultural memory research that explores the importance of the site of historical violence to questions of national or collective identity constructions and articulations. In returning memory to its site of conception, to the physical site around which it pivots, this paper will add another dimension to broader understandings of the relationship between that which is past and that which is present. This research has implications for contemporary debates around the articulations of national identities through evocations of historical violence by examining the present use of the sites of the Highland Clearances as places of official importance for Scottish identity. The paper will offer a unique evaluation of questions of place, memory, forgetting and identity and the enacting of the complexities inherent in these terms at the physical sites of historical violence.
Historical Justice and Memory Conference, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 14-17 February 2012
Swinburne University of Technology
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