[TimorLesteStudies] Michael Leach: Difficult memories: The independence struggle as cultural heritage in East Timor
Bu V.E. Wilson
bu.wilson at anu.edu.au
Thu Nov 27 09:53:29 EST 2008
Michael Leach. 2008. 'Difficult memories: The independence struggle as cultural heritage in East Timor'. In W. Logan and K. Reeves (eds). Places of Pain and Shame: Dealing with 'Difficult Heritage'. London: Routledge, pp. 144-161. Chapter Abstract This chapter examines the way difficult sites of imprisonment, trauma and resistance are being remembered in East Timor. It discusses the challenging contexts of cultural heritage management in East Timor, and surveys colonial and post-colonial layers of the cultural heritage landscape, examining their competing visions of East Timorese identity. It then focuses on East Timorese nationalist conservation of difficult sites in the struggle for independence, including key jails and interrogation centres, massacre sites, and recent monuments to the armed resistance movement Falintil. With limited resources, East Timor has had notable success in the conservation of key sites, and memories of the liberation struggle, at both the national and the local levels. Nonetheless, it is argued that the cultural heritage landscape reflects a major fault line in post-independence politics, in that the contribution of younger East Timorese nationalists in the struggle for independence remains relatively neglected. Chapter author details: mleach at swin.edu.au About the book http://www.routledge.com/books/Places-of-Pain-and-Shame-isbn9780415454506 Places of Pain and Shame is a cross-cultural study of sites that represent painful and/or shameful episodes in a national or local communitys history, and the ways that government agencies, heritage professionals and the communities themselves seek to remember, commemorate and conserve these cases or, conversely, choose to forget them.
Such episodes and locations include: massacre and genocide sites, places related to prisoners of war, civil and political prisons, and places of benevolent internment such as leper colonies and lunatic asylums. These sites bring shame upon us now for the cruelty and futility of the events that occurred within them and the ideologies they represented. They are however increasingly being regarded as heritage sites, a far cry from the view of heritage that prevailed a generation ago when we were almost entirely concerned with protecting the great and beautiful creations of the past, reflections of the creative genius of humanity rather than the reverse the destructive and cruel side of history.
Why has this shift occurred, and what implications does it have for professionals practicing in the heritage field? In what ways is this a difficult heritage to deal with? This volume brings together academics and practitioners to explore these questions, covering not only some of the practical matters, but also the theoretical and conceptual issues, and uses case studies of historic places, museums and memorials from around the globe, including the United States, Northern Ireland, Poland, South Africa, China, Japan, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia, East Timor and Australia.
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