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  • Author: Ágnes Erőss x
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Living memorial and frozen monuments: the role of social practice in memorial sites

Abstract

Monuments and memorials have become mundane elements of public space: commemorative plaques, statues, and memorial sites are mushrooming in the wake of memory production. However, besides the emblematic ones that have become accepted both by the powers and the public, there is a long list of monuments which are less cherished and/or have failed to be accepted as landmarks. When analysing two memorials in Budapest, I was interested in the possible factors explaining the failure and/or neglect of a monument. The monument dedicated to the victims of the German Occupation of Hungary was never officially unveiled, thus has not become part of the governing authority’s political landscape. Hence the proliferation of commemorative plaques on site the Corvin Passage, one of the emblematic scenes of 1956 revolution in Hungary, seems to be in a limbo between a commercial area and a heritage site. In contrast, the anti-monument on Liberty Square, a collage of personal relics, juxtaposing the official memorial, regularly visited by locals as well as tourists.

Based on the example of the anti-monument on Liberty square, I stress the importance of social practice in commemoration. I argue that a memorial site’s public acceptance and success is correlated with its capacity to engage in regular social practices.

Open access