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.
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