Remembering the Present: Dealing with the Memories of Terrorism in the EU

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Gilbert Scott Conference Room - 251 (University of Glasgow)
Ana Milosevic , LINES, KU Leuven
Whilst the interest of memory scholars in political violence and more specifically in terrorism is not novel, after the terrorist attacks in Paris (2015) and Brussels (2016) there appears to be a certain urgency to reflect upon these nascent memories in collective, European immaginarium. This article traces the development of a “bottom-up” memorialization process in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Brussels (March - July 2016) questioning how these acts of terrorisms will settle in our collective memory. By scrutinizing unprompted memorialization of the Brussels’ attacks victims, I analyse social meanings and roles assigned to spontaneous memorials emerging in hours and days after the traumatic event. The research is based on data collected through the techniques of ethnographic observations, explorative qualitative interviews with the visitors and documentary analysis of memorabilia in three spontaneous memorials’ sites (Place de la Bourse, Maelbeek and Zaventem airport). Arguing that spontaneous memorialization is more than a simple vehicle for coming to terms with a trauma and a pre-step of “official” memory works, this article draws attention to the challenge before the policy makers of transforming these ephemeral places of memory into an “official” monument without disfiguring the meanings to it attached by their own makers.