‘The memory of past violence is considered one of the surest innoculations against future violence’ .
Amy Sodaro, Exhibiting atrocity: memorial museums and the politics of past violence (new Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2018), p. 16.
Prof Fearghal McGarry:
The way to deal with contentious issues of the past (colonial, non colonial, for example) should be done by including a multiplicity of voices. The historical narrative is important to provide the context, to interpret the past.
The Museum of the Troubles and Peace is centring its focus on peace. This is a good narrative to analyse the Troubles. The Maze was a great site for a museum but not for this particular museum on Peace.
Northern Ireland is appallingly underserved in terms of the facilities we offer people to view the recent past. This is particularly true for school children and young people. There is a lack of initiatives to provide this information to children and youth.
A museum should enable change. It is a space to confront the past, to heal society. It should have a role as a form of transformative justice. A place to ask uncomfortable questions and to challenge comfort zones.
I am currently researching forced displacement during the Troubles and one of the consistent recommendations among interviewees is their idea of a public exhibition in Belfast as a way of bringing their experiences of displacement to the wider public.
The Museum should not be a stagnant space but a living space. A place that reflects the voices of today, of yesterday.
Eileen Weir, Shankill Women’s Centre:
Youth should be the centre of this Museum, a space they can get educated to be the future politicians. We still have some youth using petrol bombs now. We need hope for our youth.
There are lots of traps in a project such as this Museum. It should not be overly didactic. There is also the myth of neutrality ( that is, not being transparent). There is not such a thing as neutrality. There are always agendas. It’s important to be open and multivocal. There is going to be a minefield of traps as you are dealing with the politics of trauma. The real objective should be to rattle people, so as to be able to deal with these issues.
Dennis van der Pligt:
People are more than competing ethnicities. Let a new exhibition present a diverse range of holistic individual lives, biopic style. What was life like at home, work, school or in the streets? How did they experience tensions, politics and violence? What were their fears, needs, talents, passions, failures and accomplishments? It could be akin to Colin Davidson’s Silent Testimony exhibition, but with context and discussion. It’s history from the ground up.