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The creation of transnational memory spaces : professionalization and commercialization.

Björkdahl, Annika and Kappler, Stefanie (2019) 'The creation of transnational memory spaces : professionalization and commercialization.', International journal of politics, culture, and society., 32 (4). pp. 383-401.


In the age of globalization, local memories of past violence are often dislocated from their material places as remembrance is transpiring in transnational memory spaces. Historical events and commemorative memory practices increasingly transcend national boundaries and change the way memories of historical violence, atrocity and genocide are represented in the transnational memoryscape. This article explores how the professionalization and commercialization of museums and memorials of genocide and crimes against humanity are modes of ‘making the past present’ and ‘the local global’. Furthermore, professionalization and commercialization are processes through local memories are translated into global discourses that are comprehensible to and recognizable by a global audience. In this article, we disentangle local memory places (understood as material, physical sites) from transnational memory spaces (understood as immaterial, ideational spaces) in order to investigate the transformation of local places of memory into transnational spaces of memory. At the same time, we show that, whilst these processes are often understood interchangeably, professionalization and commercialization are separate mechanisms and tend to be used strategically to translate memory discourses to specific audiences. These two processes can be seen as producing a standardized memorial site and a homogenization of memory in the transnational memory space. The article illustrates this theoretical reasoning with empirical findings from fieldwork in South Africa, where we zoom in on Robben Island outside Cape Town, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, where we focus on the Galerija 11/07/95 in Sarajevo, which commemorates the atrocities committed in Srebrenica in 1995.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
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Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
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Publisher statement:This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Date accepted:06 June 2019
Date deposited:11 June 2019
Date of first online publication:09 July 2019
Date first made open access:01 July 2020

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