Remembering and silencing complexity in post-genocide memorialisation: Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

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Abstract

In genocide, complex political actors can take on changing roles of perpetrator, victim or hero at different points in time. In post-genocide societies, political actors seek to shape memory of the violent past to forward their own interests, often undermining this complexity and painting a more black-and-white picture that ties in with Transitional Justice practitioners’ dichotomous assumptions about perpetrators and victims. This article looks at how complexity is remembered and silenced in a post-genocide memorial space that included many complex political actors during its tenure as a security centre: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia. Here, the audio guide and permanent and temporary exhibitions (as well as changes to these) allow for a co-existence of competing memories, demonising the Khmer Rouge regime for its immense cruelty and simultaneously constructing victimhood for former Khmer Rouge cadres. This could serve as a starting point for discussing complexity, but instead silences in the exhibitions and audio guide create an ambivalence in attributing these roles that masks this complexity.

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APA

Williams, T. (2022). Remembering and silencing complexity in post-genocide memorialisation: Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Memory Studies, 15(1), 3–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/17506980211037288

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