Palimpsests: National, International, and Transnational Sites of Memory

Jay Winter


In this essay I claim that all sites of memory have both
local and national meanings, since they say that something
happened here or to the people who live here, in this country,
which is worth remembering in public. Only some sites of
memory are international, in that they are constructed not
solely by locals or residents of a particular region or state, but
by groups of people in different countries drawing attention to
events they think significant. However, transnational sites are
those which were constructed or designated as significant by
people from different places or different states, who worked
together to represent the past from a transnational
perspective. Therefore, the central question of my research is
what did memory agents, that is, the people who built or
used these sites of memory, want to achieve through them?
What were they for? The answers I present are based on war
memorials and museums. Reflecting on these sites
underscores the ways in which war memorials are
palimpsests, in the sense that they have multiple levels of
meaning attached to them, corresponding to the collective
memory of local, regional, national, international and
transnational communities about our violent age.


national international and transnational sites of memory; war memorials

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