Collective Memory, Reconciliation, and Disillusionment: Monuments in Post-Civil War Settings

Winter Issue

Written by Diana Knott, American University

Introduction

Following civil wars, states struggle to reckon with the violence and loss suffered and inflicted by multiple, often competing parties. While some states and groups tackle their newfound task of state-building through remembering and honoring victims of the conflict – either othering or conciliatory in purpose – others opt for a collective forgetting or silencing of their bloody pasts to overlook old grievances. At times, this means refusing to hold parties accountable for violence or to prosecute crimes. Many scholars have explored the necessity of dialogue-based reconciliation processes in establishing peace. One such example are “truth and reconciliation” committees which have become popular over the last two decades –– particularly in cases marked by civilian abuses.[1] Few, however, have explored the role of implicit forms of collective memory (often visual, through monuments and murals) in state-building and reconciliation.

These monuments, memorials, and murals operate in public spaces and serve as visible manifestations of collective memory. Maurice Halbwachs first developed the notion of collective memory: the idea that in reproducing thoughts of past events, an individual’s construction of them conforms to the customs, tastes, beliefs, and interests of society.[2] Thus, while memory is inherently private, it is also collective in that it has no place or frame of reference without social context. Because of this, collective memory develops a prestige and sense of surety that it is accurately steeped in reality, despite the strong influence by group consciousness. Monuments, memorials, and murals, then –– what I call public displays of collective memory –– are avenues of expression of these collective memories because they are erected in open, shared spaces and reflect these memories. However, they are also particularly important because they are not just passive reflections; in addition to potentially impacting those who do not share that collective memory (members of the “out-group”), past research has found that these monuments have the potential to become the memory themselves.[3] In other words, they are cyclical and operate as self-perpetuating, even for generations who may not have experienced the trauma themselves.

The presence of these public displays of collective memory in the context of post-civil war states is particularly interesting because members of these states have generally experienced a large amount of trauma and high intensity of shared collective memory. Following civil wars and extensive internal conflict, groups have three options for addressing the conflict: official silence, conciliatory memorials, and othering memorials. In practice, states often abandon concepts of justice and truth in favor of negative peace, or simply the absence of violence –– most commonly demonstrated through the enactment of official silence. Other times, there are widespread attempts at achieving a unitary narrative in an effort to rebuild and quickly heal wounds. Still, other times, groups erect memorials that are intentionally contentious, delivering narratives of who was victim and who was the perpetrator.

The latter is particularly puzzling considering these groups have formally agreed to end hostilities and have often taken actions such as giving up arms, suggesting their capitulation is in good faith. In addition, the establishment of these othering memorials is far from a universal practice across post-conflict settings –– as seen through conciliatory memorials and official silence. I seek to address this empirical puzzle through responding to the question: Why do some groups erect public displays of collective memory that intentionally promote othering in post-civil war settings?

Existing Explanations

This study involves an inquiry into the presence of public displays of collective memory following intense conflict. Overall, the most common explanations scholars offered were not in direct response to my question of why (which means to account for the difference in intention of public displays of memory post-civil war), but instead were offered up contextually or as second-hand support for analyses of how collective memory coalesces in public spaces. The three groups these explanations largely fall under explain the presence of othering displays of collective memory as: 1) manipulation and/or abuse of chosen traumas by political elite, 2) the presence of female activism through imagery of motherhood and victimization, and 3) a mechanism for psychological relief by shifting personal traumas to the collective. These three core scholarly groups inform my own research into the disparity between those cases where othering displays are erected and those in which they are not.

Scholars within the first group stress the domination of political elite over public spaces. Within this group, the common argument is that political elites selectively recall chosen traumas for their own purposes. Kenneth Bush, for example, argues that the absence of graffiti in Northern Ireland in indicative of a failed peace process, with the paramilitarization of the “quotidian” and public space dominated by intimidation by political elites or “hard men of violence.” [4] Igrejia, in turn, discusses the abuse of narratives by politicians of the primary opposition parties in Mozambique who, “use memories as weapons to settle accounts with former wartime foes.”[5] They do so most notably by appropriating the past only in public spaces, such as parliament, and avoiding these memories during private social gatherings. [6] Rolston differs in part. Though he does not explicitly place blame on these elites, he highlights how the obsession with these memories is guided by “memory entrepreneurs” who interpret them based on current political needs, prioritizing their own ideological ends.[7] In other words, these memories and displays are co-opted and spread amongst the collective for present-day political reasons. These scholars argue that abuses of the trauma of the past are governed from above.

 In contrast, theories about female involvement and activism emphasize the role of women (rather than strictly from above or below) and the use of imagery of motherhood and victimization in othering memorials. These scholars include Suzanne Evans, who writes on mothers of martyrs and the politics of grief, Jacobs, and Bianchi.[8] The shared conclusion amongst them is that women – particularly mothers – have consistently played the role of the sacrificial mother, victimized by loss, or willing to sacrifice her child for some greater good. Because mothers are seen as fulfilling the unique role of shaping the minds of the next generation, women’s involvement in highly symbolic acts that communicate victimization and sacrifice is a powerful resource on which societies capitalize.[9] In the context of post-conflict societies, which have experienced significant trauma, female involvement results in substantially othering public displays of collective memory, such as the memorial at Srebrenica, for which women championed and which offers “visual texts of maternal vulnerability.”[10]

         The final group of scholars entirely shape their arguments at the micro-level, focusing exclusively on psychological phenomena at play.[11] In this way, they distinguish themselves from theories of female involvement that briefly touch upon psychological elements at play, such as those that argue that supporting cultures of martyrdom might be less psychologically taxing. Scholars within this group include Paul Ricoeur, Makarem, and Young.[12] They argue that othering memorials act as a mechanism for shifting personal traumas to the collective, triggering a personal and purposeful “forgetting,” serving as immense psychological relief. It’s important to note that within this framework, individuals are fully aware that they are erecting othering displays, but their reasons for doing so are their own personal relief. This is the group I draw most upon, and will discuss thoroughly in the next few pages.

Theory

The central contention of my theory is that the presence of intentionally contentious public displays of collective memory reflects post-conflict disappointment and disillusionment in political changes at the lower echelons (i.e. not political leadership/elite). The psychological relief argument provided by scholars is a necessary condition, in that it explains the inherent psychological reasons for creating othering memorials. Indeed, othering memorials are heavily costly: financially and because they risk sparking future conflict. Yet groups that erect these memorials do so knowing these costs. To deny, at least in part, a psychological component to this choice seems foolish, especially considering humans are widely accepted to have bounded rationality: the idea that our rationality has limits.[13] However, the psychological relief argument is ultimately an insufficient condition, as almost all groups in post-civil war setting experience significant trauma and thus this phenomenon, yet not all erect othering displays. Additionally, although female activism could play a role, it is unclear if all places where othering displays are present have a large degree of female activism at present (such as Northern Ireland), or how and when female activism may be weaponized (as not all female activism is). My theory runs most contrary to the political elite theory, however, as it argues in favor of coming ‘from below,’ not ‘above.’ I argue against these public displays of collective memory coming from above because in many cases, political elites actually face pressures to lift official silence by members of civil society. These members have also been the most prolific in contesting politicians’ narratives and establishing grass-roots mechanisms for facilitation of reconciliation.[14] Furthermore, rises in politicians who refer to past traumas in attempt to “manipulate” collective memory have not consistently been accompanied by a rise in othering memorials.[15]

Collective memory theory has long posited that monuments serve both conciliatory and inflammatory purposes. The creation of inflammatory monuments by groups that have previously agreed and taken concrete steps towards peace suggests that there has been a shift in satisfaction towards the agreement since it was signed. The intersection of perception, distrust, and collective action has been used to explain civil wars, but has not been widely applied to post-civil war contexts, and even less so within the framework of reconciliation and public displays of collective memory.[16] Furthermore, this shift in satisfaction can be traced back to the lower echelons, not the elites. Ending conflicts via negotiated settlements – inextricably political agreements – requires a great deal of collective buy-in from constituencies. Despite a “spokesperson” being chosen for each respective group, negotiated settlements fail immediately (or almost immediately) if they do not conform to what each faction and their constituents’ desires and intents. This is so essential that it is frequently cited as the number one barrier to successfully negotiating an end to a civil war.[17] Following through with these agreements in concrete and irreversible – or, at a minimum, very costly – ways that seriously hinder groups’ security indicate that these agreements have popular support when they are agreed to. These actions include surrendering arms, transferring territory, and dissolving militias. But more importantly, these actions also suggest that these agreements are made in good faith and with a heavy level of commitment, trust, and optimism toward change.

In formulating my theory, I draw on the psychological framework of Paul Ricoeur, who identifies the phenomenon of an “oubli de réserve,” or reversible forgetting, in which individuals selectively forget events and periods.[18] Various situations, however, can pull forth these memories and render them “unforgettable.”[19] In other words, collective memory is heavily moldable by the events and sentiments of the present. According to Sylvie Mahieu, who writes on the strategic ordering of ceasefires and settlements, civil wars have the potential to come to a negotiated end when they are “ripe,” or when parties are exhausted by the conflict and genuinely desire an end to the fighting.[20] While these groups willingly make concessions in order to reach a negotiated settlement, the conditions and changes (or, perhaps more accurately, the lack thereof) made following these agreements have the potential to “unripen” conflicts. Mahieu recognizes this phenomena in the prioritization of ceasefire agreements over settlements.[21] I, however, apply her theory to settlements that have effectively done little more than ceasefires –– those which ultimately fail to address deeper issues at the source of the conflict, and/or enact little meaningful change. It is in these situations that disappointment and disillusionment present themselves in post-conflict societies. They further appear in greater intensity than they might in frozen conflicts born of ceasefires, as settlements carry greater weight and expectations toward positive future change.

Thus, in conflicts with negotiated settlements (particularly power-sharing deals) which require a good deal of collective buy-in from constituencies, three potential sentiments can later present themselves: 1) satisfaction with changes, 2) disappointment with changes (or the lack thereof), or 3) an uncertainty or lack of consensus within a group toward changes. These each correspond to the presence of conciliatory memorials, othering memorials, or official silence (the absence of memorials) within these post-conflict states. In explaining the presence of othering memorials by some groups, I hypothesize that popular political disillusionment reshapes collective memory of the conflict, and therefore results in intentionally contentious public displays of that memory.

Research Design

To answer my research question (why do some groups erect public displays of memory that intentionally promote othering in post-civil war settings), I chose to use qualitative methods to conduct a case study analyzing Northern Ireland following the Troubles (late 1960s-1998), Lebanon following its civil war (1975-1990), and Bosnia-Herzegovina following the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Because I am addressing a ‘why’ question that is embedded in the context of states’ mixed approaches and, at times, reluctant willingness to speak directly on the conflict, qualitative methods serve to investigate the complex and competing forms of collective memory, their manifestation via public displays, and their conciliatory or othering intention. Additionally, it would be difficult to quantify the degree to which a state experiences public displays of collective memory; for example, how does one quantify states that have monuments and museums that are both conciliatory and othering in nature, as is the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina?

I chose Northern Ireland, Lebanon, and Bosnia and Herzegovina as the most likely cases for my theory. Although the Troubles might not be categorized as a civil war under the commonly used death toll of 1,000 a year, it did result in 3,500 killed and 50,000 injured –– 0.002 of Northern Ireland’s population, which barely totaled 1.5 million.[22] Following Sambanis’s discussion of defining civil war and his example of the Greco-Turkish war in Cyprus, even 100,000 deaths in a country of 100 million (or 0.001 of the population) would be considered a massive tragedy and fall under the category of civil war.[23] Therefore, I categorize these three states as post-civil war states.

I further control for ethnonationalism, time period, and negotiated power-sharing settlements. All three cases are states whose civil wars were ethnonationalist in nature; this suggests greater in-group cohesion and out-group enmity. However, these three cases witnessed variations in whether or not monuments were present, and in what form; ethnonationalism, therefore, cannot be an explanatory variable. They also all ended in military stalemates and outside intervention; in other words, no one group left the conflict with greater power and legitimacy. This is important because power and legitimacy based on how civil wars end play a key role in who is then able to assign guilt and monopolize collective memory of the conflict. All three civil wars ended in the 1990’s, providing similarities in global context. Lastly, these conflicts ended through peace deals that established power sharing governmental structures. Power sharing governments, while establishing equal rights to governance, openly and clearly label those groups as distinct and different.

However, these cases do demonstrate variation in three key ways: population size, intensity of violence, and prosecution of crimes. Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Lebanon differed in population size, with approximately 1.5 million inhabitants in Northern Ireland during the Troubles versus 4.4 million in pre-war Bosnia and approximately 2.5 million in at the start of the Lebanese Civil War.[24] Furthermore, although violence committed during the Troubles was significant, recognized tit-for-tat violence and 3,500 deaths (52% of which were civilians), the Bosnian war witnessed immense atrocities, with over 100,000 deaths and thousands of rapes.[25] The Lebanese Civil War, while more comparable to the Troubles than the Bosnian War in duration, resulted in double the amount of deaths at 200,000.[26] It is important to note that, though it varied in intensity from the Bosnian War and the Lebanese Civil War, the Troubles was witness to strict ethnoreligious divisions, fear, and hatred –– evident through Belfast’s “peace walls” and the virulent othering of Protestants and Catholics. Following these conflicts, dozens of actors in the Bosnian war have been prosecuted for their crimes during the war. A key part of the peace deal in Northern Ireland, however, was effective amnesty for those deemed “political prisoners” or members of paramilitary groups who had taken violent actions during the conflict. Lebanon has had a mixed approach, with amnesty largely granted, and limited trials for some notable events such as a massive car bombing, but only a decade later.

My independent variable, in application of my theory, is the degree of satisfaction with social and political changes. I determined this variable through three key indicators: if underlying issues were addressed, if there are divides in the physical-social landscape, and sense of optimism when available. The two former were measured respectively through discussion in the public sphere, whether there was any sort of consensus, and if any political actions were taken; and divided neighborhoods, separate schools and community institutions, etc. I found this last indicator the most relevant, as it most closely correlates with degree of satisfaction. However, this was my major limitation; this data was only available when previous research had been conducted specifically measuring it, and it was often inconsistently available across these three states. My dependent variable is the presence, or lack thereof, of intentionally othering memorials. I determined whether these memorials were intentionally othering based on whether they pronounced blame and stereotypes and if exclusively one ethnic group was mentioned.

These cases were also chosen because they display various results of intentionally othering displays of public memory. Northern Ireland is well-known for its contentious murals, which a plurality of scholars has recognized as highly sectarian.[27] Bosnia and Herzegovina has numerous othering displays –– most notably the Srebrenica Memorial – which depict villainy and victimhood, but have in the past few years since ventured toward conciliatory displays, such as the Museum of War Childhood.[28] Following a brief period of official silence, Lebanon has erected conciliatory memorials and museums which place collective blame and victimhood on every population group –– despite some outside critics’ complaints that this unfairly alleviates the burden of blame from Lebanon’s political elite who stoked the conflict.[29] The changing nature of these public displays allows me to further apply my theory to the same context in changing post-war conditions.

Cases and Findings

Northern Ireland

The Troubles in Northern Ireland was an ethno-nationalist intrastate conflict that lasted from the late 1960s to 1998, with the Good Friday (or Belfast) Agreement demarcating the official end of the conflict. Although the conflict officially began in the 60s, its roots can be traced back to centuries of English imperialism over the entire island, the Easter Rising in 1916, and the Irish War of Independence from 1919 to 1921.[30] With the end of the Irish War of Independence, the island of Ireland was partitioned into two: Northern Ireland, and Southern Ireland, which soon became the Irish Free State. Northern Ireland, which, unlike “Southern Ireland” at the time, had a majority Protestant population, remained a part of the United Kingdom.[31] Following a civil rights movement in Northern Ireland to end discrimination against the Catholic minority, which made up roughly one-third of the population, and suppression via police brutality, armed paramilitary organizations emerged by both Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists.[32] The former sought a united Ireland, while the latter sought to stay within the United Kingdom. Sectarian warfare and tit-for-tat violence characterized the region for the next three decades, leading to the creation of no-go areas and public areas clearly marked as “territory” belonging to one side or another.[33] Accordingly, “peace walls” were constructed by British troops as a method of physically keeping warring neighboring communities apart from one another.[34]

In the 1990s, a series of ceasefires were pursued, with talks between the main parties in the conflict ultimately leading to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. This agreement restored self-government to Northern Ireland – as opposed to British rule – and established a power-sharing Executive and Assembly.[35] The agreement required a great deal of collective buy-in, with fringe republican movements slowly peeling away as negotiations continued.[36] It was followed by a slow but progressive disarmament, with the Provisional IRA announced as completely disarmed by 2005.[37] However, since then, there has been a widespread sense of disappointment and disillusionment amongst both Catholic and Protestant communities in the lack of changes made. Rather than being dismantled and disappearing in the twenty-one years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the peace walls have grown taller and even been extended.[38] Despite a government plan enacted in 2013 to bring down all the peace walls by 2023, an estimated one-third of these walls were erected following the ceasefires of the 1990s and continue to be extended today.[39] The disparity between the extension and creation of new peace walls and the government-purported plan to pull them down indicates the disconnect between political elite and sentiments at the bottom by the people who live in these communities. Furthermore, Northern Ireland experiences high levels of unemployment and a high percentage of long-term unemployment –– significantly higher than the rest of the United Kingdom.[40] But most importantly, in measuring this sense of disillusionment, a majority of people in Protestant communities, in particular, are pessimistic toward the possibility of future positive change.[41]

 In line with my theory, Northern Ireland is home to an abundance of othering memorials. These are most recognizable through the highly sectarian murals which decorate the streets of Derry or Londonderry and Belfast. They feature hooded, armed gunmen, symbols that refer to origin myths (such as the red hand of Ulster), explicit parallels between the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Northern Irish one and statements such as “Prepared for Peace, Ready for War.”[42] In addition, contentious memorials that are on private land but which are visible in public spheres dot the landscape, often defining those who died as “victims of terrorism.” When these murals are taken down, they are frequently traded out with equally contentious murals carrying similar narratives. Despite a sense of dissatisfaction among both Catholic and Protestant communities, the feeling of disillusionment appears higher amongst Protestant loyalists.[43] They perceive themselves as having benefitted less than Catholics, who faced greater discrimination prior to the Troubles and whose unemployment level have since decreased significantly, and are thus more pessimistic.[44] Accordingly, they more often employ terms like “terrorism” in these memorials, and almost all of their murals have masked gunmen;  in contrast, there are relatively few gunman in republican murals, despite still having othering content. [45] Some of these memorials have even explicitly declared there is no difference between Sinn Feín and ISIS, reshaping collective memory in the context of the present (see image 1).[46]

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Bosnian War was an armed conflict that took place between 1992 and 1995. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, the multi-ethnic state secured independence in 1992, but quickly fell into civil war.[47] Made up of Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats, the newly founded state experienced the mobilization of armed forces, ethnic cleansing, and mass rape.[48] With the significant assistance of international parties, including the United States and NATO-backed forces, the war finally ended with the Dayton Agreement in 1995.[49] The settlement outlined a clearly defined border and set the state of Bosnia Herzegovina as composed of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska.[50] The state would retain a central government, but generally be highly decentralized. Following the agreement, groups took concrete steps to fulfil its implementation, including transfers of territory between the three groups.[51] The priority of the agreement was to freeze military conflict and prevent violence from continuing. However, it was designed to be flexible and allow progressive transformation from a typical ceasefire agreement to one facilitating reconstruction in future years.[52]

Since the agreement was enacted, there has largely been disappointment in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s social-political changes. Economically, there is an extremely high unemployment rate, which rose to 30% in 2014, and Bosnia and Herzegovina is by far the poorest of the Balkan states.[53] This has resulted in a brain drain, with a large portion of educated youth leaving the state. Public anger over the dismal economic situation and political corruption and mismanagement ,specifically the lack of any real political guidance and progress since the Dayton Accords, resulted in mass protests and riots across the country in February 2014.[54] Furthermore, the various groups still receive segregated education and there is general disapproval of mixed marriages.[55] These indicators point to the presence of disillusionment in the political changes and the political elite more generally. As expected, a plethora of othering memorials are present across the landscape of the country, including the prominent Srebrenica Memorial. Long-planned but delayed by controversy, the memorial was erected in 2003, with strong roots in women’s activism.[56] According to Jacobs, the memorial visually perpetuates the “political-historical discourse of Serbian aggression and international complicity.”[57] Although it is a genocide memorial, it nonetheless reflects a collective memory that excludes the context of the conflict and implicitly carries stereotypes of the sacrificial Bosniak mother and the Serbian aggressor.[58]

However, in recent years, there has been some suggestion of limited satisfaction with changes. There is a slight increase in mixed marriages, an increase in attendance at interfaith meetings, and some reports of an increasing sense of optimism.[59] This limited satisfaction has seen the concurrent presence of some limited conciliatory memorials. However, I could not find any record of the destruction of othering memorials, suggesting that it is unclear if the shift in attitude toward post-war changes is sizable and will continue. Most notable amongst these conciliatory memorials is the Museum of War Childhood, which opened in 2017. Located in Sarajevo, it is non-sectarian and recounts the experiences of children who lived through the Bosnian War, assembled from thousands of young adults who submitted their memories of the conflict and objects connected to these memories.[60] Because it relates the stories of children across ethno-religious lines and their universal experiences as children affected by violence, the museum highlights the pain of war across identities while avoiding blame on any particular group. In this sense, it is the first prominent public display of collective memory in Bosnia and Herzegovina that is conciliatory in nature since the end of the conflict. This is especially notable as political elites in Bosnia and Herzegovina of late have espoused extremely othering views; yet, this is not reflected through the memorials that are constructed.[61] In other words, the presence of conciliatory memorials cannot be tied back to political elites.

Lebanon

The Lebanese Civil War lasted from 1975 to 1990 and was fought between Maronite Christian forces and pro-Palestinian Muslims.[62] As a multisectarian state, the war is rooted in the intersection of politics and religion, further aggravated by French colonialism, which favored Maronite Christians politically.[63] Due to the establishment of Israel and the arrival of a hundred thousand Palestinian refugees over the course of two decades in Lebanon, the balance of power and demographics changed significantly and rapidly.[64] The war was thus marked by highly sectarian shifting alliances and influenced by outside actors including Syria, Israel, Iran, and other Arab governments.[65] There was a great deal of disregard for human rights by militias on all sides, and non-combatant civilians were frequently targeted.[66] The conflict began to come to an end in 1989, with the Taif Agreement chaired by the Arab League, and allocated Syria with the role of occupying Lebanon.[67] In 1991, an amnesty law that pardoned all political crimes (with a few exceptions) was enacted and was swiftly followed by the dissolution of all militias (with the key exception of Hezbollah).[68] Because this research is specific to groups that take concrete steps to fulfill the conditions of negotiated settlements, Hezbollah and its members, as well as any Hezbollah-related memorials are excluded from this study.

In the years following the end of the conflict, there was a sense of uncertainty over the agreement, with a lack of consensus and tensions within groups. This apprehension was most clearly through strict de-facto sectarian divides by neighborhood.[69] However, there were also serious attempts to create unified curriculum across identities. However, due to debates over the narrative and conflicting collective memories of the war, these attempts ultimately failed.[70] Still, these attempts suggest that there was not widespread sense of dissatisfaction, nor of satisfaction. The according result was official silence. School textbooks do not discuss the war, as contemporary history ends with the end of French occupation. The reconstruction phase which immediately followed the end of the conflict, there was significant demolishment of historic buildings –– particular those that had significance in the war.[71]

 In recent years, however, there has been increasing satisfaction with changes. This is indicated through the reconstruction of churches and individuals’ returns to pre-war areas; it is important to note that this is still limited in scope, and many neighborhoods are still at least semi- segregated.[72] More importantly, there has been an outspoken desire for public memorialization by individuals who are not politicians.[73] This is particularly significant because, due to the amnesty law that was passed, leaders in the various factions during the war largely transferred over as political elites following the war.[74] This desire, then, for public memorialization (and the rejection of official silence), along with significant non-sectarian civil society work (especially in the arts) suggests that people at the lower echelons – and not politic elites – have expressed a sense of optimism in future change, and satisfaction with changes up to present. There is little to no sense of disillusionment. As expected per my theory, this has been met with a rise in conciliatory memorials, including non-sectarian murals and most recently, the opening of the Beit Beirut Museum of War and Memory in January 2017.[75] The exception, however, of a conciliatory memorial being present during the period of official silence is the Espoir de Paix (or Hope for Peace) Monument. Although this does not fit with my theory, the monument could be a potential outlier because it was designed by a French-American (an outsider) and was designed decades prior; it was first offered to France, the United States, and Israel (all three countries refused the offer), before finally being accepted by the Lebanese government.[76] It is significant that Lebanon chose to accept the memorial. However, the country avoided many of the barriers that come with erecting a memorial themselves: that of making the active choice to establish a memorial, find an artist to design it, and then erect it.

Conclusion

Scholars have long recognized the historic presence of civil war as a key contributing factor to a state’s likelihood of experiencing another civil war. Similarly, there have recently been efforts to push toward reconciliation to address the underlying factors which initially contributed to the development of the conflict. Thus, it is essential that states, NGOs, and IOs develop a comprehensive understanding of how collective memory – which is closely associated with a group’s identity – contributes to reconciliation efforts to avoid latent conflict or even a return to civil war. My research on why some groups erect intentionally contentious public displays of collective memory sheds light on the how monuments reflect the success (or lack thereof) of reconciliation, and opens doors to larger questions of how space, memory, and peace interact. In other words, in taking comprehensive stock of the type of public displays of collective memory present or not present, states, NGOs, and IOs can track how satisfied various identity groups are with the changes and progress made following peace agreements.

Furthermore, while my research established the relationship between sentiment toward changes and the presence of various types of memorials, it also suggested potential connections between negotiated settlements and/or post-agreement governance and the aforementioned sentiments. Although it was out of the scope of this paper to fully investigate this connection, further research should consider if the sentiments outlined in this paper (and their corresponding memorials) are correlated with specific features of negotiated settlements and/or strategies of implementation. Does this sense of disillusionment, when present, arise from failures in the agreement itself or in the governance of the provisions following the agreement? And what are these failures?

An additional avenue for further research builds on Ricoeur’s “oubli de réserve,” or reversible forgetting, and my concept of bottom-up disillusionment.[77] His argument that various situations can recall these memories, rendering them “unforgettable,” and my discussion of the consequences of this – othering memorials – begs the question: Can these situations be redressed as they occur, and thus return to reversible forgetting?[78] My analysis of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where there has been a slight emergence of conciliatory memorials, suggests that a return to reversible forgetting is possible, but can these situations be countered promptly and result in a return to this “réserve” just as promptly? Past research has found that these monuments have the potential to become the memory themselves, sometimes reaching hegemonic proportions and cyclically risking successful post-conflict reconciliation.[79] Further study of questions like these, then, is particularly important because it offers real policy opportunities for combatting potential risk of latent violence or even a return to conflict. It is essential that we obtain a more knowledgeable application of urban planning and public mourning or honoring in the context of state building and reconciliation, and ultimately cultivate a sustainable, positive peace.


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Evans, Suzanne. Mothers of Heroes, Mothers of Martyrs: World War I and the Politics of Grief, (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007), preface

Fordham, Alice. “Ghosts Of The Past Still Echo in Beirut’s Fragmented Neighborhoods.” NPR.org. October 2, 2014. https://www.npr.org/2014/10/02/353042413/ghosts-of-the-past-still-echo-in-beiruts-fragmented-neighborhoods.

Halbwachs, Maurice. On Collective Memory, translated by Lewis A. Coser, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Hardy, Roger. “The Lebanese crisis explained,” BBC News. May 22, 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6173322.stm.

Hayes, Bernadette C. and Ian McAllister. “Protestant Disillusionment with the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement,” Irish Journal of Sociology 13, no. 1 (2004): 109-125.

I. William Zartman, Elusive Peace: Negotiating an End to Civil Wars, (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995), 23.

Ibrahim, Youssef M. “THE WORLD; A French Presence in Lebanon, A Lebanese Presence in France.” The New York Times. September 3, 1989. https://www.nytimes.com/1989/09/03/weekinreview/the-world-a-french-presence-in-lebanon-a-lebanese-presence-in-france.html.

Igreja, Victor. “Memories as Weapons: The Politics of Peace and Silence in Post-Civil War Mozambique.” Journal of Southern African Studies 34, no. 3 (2008): 539-56.

Jacobs, Janet. “The Memorial at Srebrenica: Gender and the Social Meanings of Collective Memory in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” Memory Studies 10, no. 4 (2016): 423-39

Kadi, Samar. “Teaching war, reconciliation and history in Lebanon.” The Arab Weekly. November 13, 2016, https://thearabweekly.com/teaching-war-reconciliation-and-history-lebanon.

Knott, Diana. Photo taken of public memorial in Belfast, Northern Ireland. March 14, 2019.

Lampe, John R. “Bosnian War: European History (1992-1995).” Encyclopaedia Britannica. March 27, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/event/Bosnian-War.

Loveluck, Louisa. “Beirut civil war museum is haunting, but few Lebanese want to disturb the ghosts.” The Washington Post. January 14, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/beirut-civil-war-museum-is-haunting-but-few-lebanese-want-to-disturb-the-ghosts/2018/01/13/0761c102-f581-11e7-9af7-a50bc3300042_story.html?utm_term=.cf9eb98566b0.

Makarem, Amal. Mémoire pour l’avenir, actes, du colloque tenu à la maison des nations unies (Beyrouth : Dar el Nahar, 2001)

Morgan-Jones, Edward et al., “20 years later, this is what Bosnians think about the Dayton peace accords.” The Washington Post. December 14, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2015/12/14/20-years-later-this-is-what-bosnians-think-about-the-dayton-peace-accords/?utm_term=.73bf68005881.

Morrow, Duncan. “The Rise (and Fall?) of Reconciliation in Northern Ireland.” Peace Research 44, no. 1 (2012): 5-35.

Nayel, Moe Ali. “Lebanon marks civil war anniversary,” Aljazeera, 13 April 2014, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/04/lebanon-civil-war-anniversary-2014412171036541966.html.

O’Hagan, Sean. “Belfast, Divided in the name of peace,” The Guardian, January 21, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/jan/22/peace-walls-troubles-belfast-feature.

Perry, Tom. “In a Lebanese village, civil war scars fade slowly.” Reuters. September 1, 2016. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/lebanon-brih/.

Pickering, Paula et al. “Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/place/Bosnia-and-Herzegovina#ref476256.

Ricoeur, Paul. La mémoire, l’histoire, l’oubli, (Paris : Seuil, 2000)

Rolston, Bill. “‘Trying to Reach the Future through the Past’: Murals and Memory in Northern Ireland.” Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal 6, no. 3 (2010): 285-307.

Sambanis, Nicholas. “What is Civil War? Conceptual and Empirical Complexities of an Operational Definition.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 48, no. 6 (2004): 814-858.

Sarkin, Jeremy. “The Necessity and Challenges of Establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Rwanda,” Human Rights Quarterly 21, no. 3 (1999): 767-823.

Sewell, Abby. “Ravaged by war, Beirut’s historic sites are being reimagined.” National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/lebanon/beirut-war-damaged-landmarks-becoming-cultural-sites/.

Simon, Herbert A. Models of Bounded Rationality. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1983.

Sune, Haugboolle. “The historiography and memory of the Lebanese civil war.” SciencesPo. October 25, 2011. https://www.sciencespo.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/fr/document/historiography-and-memory-lebanese-civil-war.

Surk, Barbara. “In a Divided Bosnia, Segregated Schools Persist.” The New York Times. December 1, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/01/world/europe/bosnia-schools-segregated-ethnic.html

Tabeau, Ewa and Jakub Bijak. “War-Related Deaths in the 1992-1995 Armed Conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Critique of Previous Estimates and Recent Results,” European Journal of Population 21, no. 2/3 (2005): 187-215.

Takseva, Tatjana. “Building a Culture of Peace and Collective Memory in Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sarajevo’s Museum of War Childhood,” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 18, no. 1 (2018): 3-18.

The Taif Agreement, UN Archives.

Theodorou, Angelina E. “How Bosnian Muslims view Christians 20 years after Srebrenica massacre.” Pew Research Center. July 10, 2015. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/10/how-bosnian-muslims-view-christians-20-years-after-srebrenica-massacre-2/.

Weidmann, Nils B. “Violence ‘from above’ or ‘from below’? The Role of Ethnicity in Bosnia’s Civil War,” The Journal of Politics 73, no. 4 (2011): 1178-1190.

Wilson, Richard. The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Legitimizing the Post-Apartheid State. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008.

Young, James E. The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 2000.

Zuvela, Maja. “Bosnian museum of wartime childhood aims to go global, wins top prize.” Reuters. December 8, 2017. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bosnia-museum/bosnian-museum-of-wartime-childhood-aims-to-go-global-wins-top-prize-idUSKBN1E216B.


[1] Examples include Jeremy Sarkin, “The Necessity and Challenges of Establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Rwanda,” Human Rights Quarterly 21, no. 3 (1999): 767-823; Richard Wilson, The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Legitimizing the Post-Apartheid State. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008.

[2] Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory, translated by Lewis A. Coser, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

[3] James E. Young, The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning.

[4] Kenneth Bush, “The Politics of Post-Conflict Space: The Mysterious Case of Missing Graffiti in ‘post-troubles’ Northern Ireland.” Contemporary Politics 19, no. 2 (2013): 167-89.

[5] Victor Igreja, “Memories as Weapons: The Politics of Peace and Silence in Post-Civil War Mozambique.” Journal of Southern African Studies 34, no. 3 (2008): 539.

[6] Ibid, 551.

[7] Bill Rolston, “‘Trying to Reach the Future through the Past’: Murals and Memory in Northern Ireland.” Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal 6, no. 3 (2010): 285-307.

[8] Suzanne Evans, Mothers of Heroes, Mothers of Martyrs: World War I and the Politics of Grief, (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007), preface; Janet Jacobs, “The Memorial at Srebrenica: Gender and the Social Meanings of Collective Memory in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” Memory Studies 10, no. 4 (2016): 423-39; Kendall Bianchi, “Letters from Home: Hezbollah Mothers and the Culture of Martyrdom,” CTC Sentinel 11, no. 2 (2018): 20-24.

[9] Evans, preface.

[10] Jacobs, 430.

[11] Bianchi, 23.

[12] Paul Ricoeur, La mémoire, l’histoire, l’oubli, (Paris : Seuil, 2000) ; Amal Makarem, Mémoire pour l’avenir, actes, du colloque tenu à la maison des nations unies (Beyrouth : Dar el Nahar, 2001); James E. Young, The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 2000.

[13] Herbert A. Simon, Models of Bounded Rationality, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1983.

[14] “Despite Srebrenica’s Horror, A Grass-Roots Optimism Sprouts in Bosnia,” NPR.org, July 11, 2015, https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/07/11/422211165/despite-srebrenicas-horror-a-grass-roots-optimism-sprouts-in-bosnia.

[15] Maxim Edwards, “The President Who Wants to Break Up His Own Country,” The Atlantic, January 2, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/01/serb-president-dodik-bosnia/579199/.

[16] An example is Nils B. Weidmann, “Violence ‘from above’ or ‘from below’? The Role of Ethnicity in Bosnia’s Civil War,” The Journal of Politics 73, no. 4 (2011): 1178-1190.

[17] I. William Zartman, Elusive Peace: Negotiating an End to Civil Wars, (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995), 23.

[18] Ricoeur, La mémoire, l’histoire, l’oubli.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Sylvie Mahieu, “When Should Mediators Interrupt a Civil War? The Best Timing for a Ceasefire,” International Negotiation 12 (2007): 210-212.

[21] Ibid.

[22] CAIN Web Service – Conflicts and Politics in Northern Ireland.

[23] Nicholas Sambanis, “What is Civil War? Conceptual and Empirical Complexities of an Operational Definition.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 48, no. 6 (2004): 814-858.

[24] CAIN Web Service – Conflicts and Politics in Northern Ireland; Encylcopedia Princetoniensis, “Bosnia-Herzgovina,” Accessed 8 March 2019, https://pesd.princeton.edu/?q=node/6; John Chamie, “The Lebanese Civil War: An Investigation into the Causes,” World Affairs 139, no. 3 (1976/77): 171-188.

[25] CAIN Web Service – Conflicts and Politics in Northern Ireland; Ewa Tabeau and Jakub Bijak, “War-Related Deaths in the 1992-1995 Armed Conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Critique of Previous Estimates and Recent Results,” European Journal of Population 21, no. 2/3 (2005): 187-215.

[26] Moe Ali Nayel, “Lebanon marks civil war anniversary,” Aljazeera, 13 April 2014, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/04/lebanon-civil-war-anniversary-2014412171036541966.html.

[27] Examples include Kenneth Bush, “The Politics of Post-Conflict Space” and Duncan Morrow, “The Rise (and Fall?) of Reconciliation in Northern Ireland.” Peace Research 44, no. 1 (2012): 5-35.

[28] Janet Jacobs, “The Memorial at Srebenica: Gender and the Social Meanings of Collective Memory in Bosnia-Herzegovina”; Tatjana Takseva, “Building a Culture of Peace and Collective Memory in Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sarajevo’s Museum of War Childhood,” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 18, no. 1 (2018): 3-18.

[29] Elsa Abou Assi, “Collective Memory and Management of the Past: The Entrepreneurs of Civil War Memory in Post-War Lebanon,” International Social Science Journal 61, no. 202 (2011): 399-409.

[30] Michael Laffan, “The emergence of the ‘Two Irelands’, 1912-25,” History Ireland: Ireland’s History Magazine 4, no. 12 (2004), https://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/the-emergence-of-the-two-irelands-1912-25/.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Richard English, The State: Historical and Political Dimensions, Ed. Charles Townshend (London: Routledge, 1998), 98; Dominic Bryan, Orange Parades: The Politics of Ritual Tradition and Control (London: Pluto Press, 2000), 94.

[33] CAIN Web Service – Conflicts and Politics in Northern Ireland.

[34] Johnny Byrne et al., “Attitudes to Peace Walls: Research Report to Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister,” University of Ulster, 2012.

[35] Charles Landow and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “The Northern Ireland Peace Process,” Council on Foreign Relations, March 12, 2019, https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/northern-ireland-peace-process.

[36] “Eighteenth Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission,” HC502, May 1, 2008.

[37] Brian Lavery and Alan Cowell, “I.R.A. Renounces Use of Violence; Vows to Disarm,” New York Times, July 29, 2005, https://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/29/world/europe/ira-renounces-use-of-violence-vows-to-disarm.html.

[38] Byrne et al.

[39] Sean O’Hagan, “Belfast, Divided in the name of peace,” The Guardian, January 21, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/jan/22/peace-walls-troubles-belfast-feature.

[40] “Unemployment figures at record low in Northern Ireland,” BBC News, April 16, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-47949165.

[41] Bernadette C. Hayes and Ian McAllister, “Protestant Disillusionment with the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement,” Irish Journal of Sociology 13, no. 1 (2004): 109-125.

[42] “Belfast – Loyalist Mural on Mount Vernon Community House ‘prepared for Peace; Ready for War,” 2014, https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/218712?show=full.

[43] Hayes and McAllister.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Dominic Bryan, Walking tour and lecture, Belfast, March 14, 2019.

[46] Diana Knott, photo taken of public memorial in Belfast, Northern Ireland, March 14, 2019.

[47] John R. Lampe, “Bosnian War: European History (1992-1995),” Encyclopaedia Britannica, March 27, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/event/Bosnian-War.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Paula Pickering et al., “Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/place/Bosnia-and-Herzegovina#ref476256.

[51] Edward Morgan-Jones et al., “20 years later, this is what Bosnians think about the Dayton peace accords,” The Washington Post, December 14, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2015/12/14/20-years-later-this-is-what-bosnians-think-about-the-dayton-peace-accords/?utm_term=.73bf68005881.

[52] Charles-Philippe David, “Alice in Wonderland meets Frankenstein: Constructivism, Realism and Peacebuilding in Bosnia,” Contemporary Security Policy 22, No.1 (2001): 1-30.

[53] Denis Dzidic, “Bosnia-Herzegovina hit by wave of violent protests,” The Guardian, February 7, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/07/bosnia-herzegovina-wave-violent-protests.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Barbara Surk, “In a Divided Bosnia, Segregated Schools Persist,” The New York Times, December 1, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/01/world/europe/bosnia-schools-segregated-ethnic.html; Angelina E. Theodorou, “How Bosnian Muslims view Christians 20 years after Srebrenica massacre,” Pew Research Center, July 10, 2015, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/10/how-bosnian-muslims-view-christians-20-years-after-srebrenica-massacre-2/.

[56] Jacobs.

[57] Ibid, 429.

[58] Ibid.

[59] “Despite Srebrenica’s Horror”

[60] Maja Zuvela, “Bosnian museum of wartime childhood aims to go global, wins top prize,” Reuters, December 8, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bosnia-museum/bosnian-museum-of-wartime-childhood-aims-to-go-global-wins-top-prize-idUSKBN1E216B.

[61] Edwards.

[62] Roger Hardy, “The Lebanese crisis explained,” BBC News, May 22, 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6173322.stm.

[63] Youssef M. Ibrahim, “THE WORLD; A French Presence in Lebanon, A Lebanese Presence in France,” The New York Times, September 3, 1989, https://www.nytimes.com/1989/09/03/weekinreview/the-world-a-french-presence-in-lebanon-a-lebanese-presence-in-france.html.

[64] Hardy.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Haugboolle Sune, “The historiography and memory of the Lebanese civil war,” SciencesPo, October 25, 2011, https://www.sciencespo.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/fr/document/historiography-and-memory-lebanese-civil-war.

[67] The Taif Agreement, UN Archives.

[68] “Lebanon: Human Rights Developments and Violations,” Amnesty International, October 1997.

[69] Alice Fordham, “Ghosts Of The Past Still Echo in Beirut’s Fragmented Neighborhoods,” NPR.org, October 2, 2014, https://www.npr.org/2014/10/02/353042413/ghosts-of-the-past-still-echo-in-beiruts-fragmented-neighborhoods.

[70]  Samar Kadi, “Teaching war, reconciliation and history in Lebanon,” The Arab Weekly, November 13, 2016, https://thearabweekly.com/teaching-war-reconciliation-and-history-lebanon.

[71] Abby Sewell, “Ravaged by war, Beirut’s historic sites are being reimagined,” National Geographic, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/lebanon/beirut-war-damaged-landmarks-becoming-cultural-sites/.

[72] Tom Perry, “In a Lebanese village, civil war scars fade slowly,” Reuters, September 1, 2016, https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/lebanon-brih/.

[73] Louisa Loveluck, “Beirut civil war museum is haunting, but few Lebanese want to disturb the ghosts,” The Washington Post, January 14, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/beirut-civil-war-museum-is-haunting-but-few-lebanese-want-to-disturb-the-ghosts/2018/01/13/0761c102-f581-11e7-9af7-a50bc3300042_story.html?utm_term=.cf9eb98566b0.

[74] Dima de Clerck, “Positive Peace for Lebanon: Reconciliation, reform and resilience,” Conciliation Resources 24, 2012: 24-26.

[75] Loveluck.

[76] Nadine Brozan, “CHRONICLE,” The New York Times, August 1, 1995, https://www.nytimes.com/1995/08/01/style/chronicle-898095.html?mtrref=undefined&gwh=E9F9A1C0EDE3DF19931EFA9B07921AD1&gwt=pay.

[77] Ricoeur.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Young.