Revisiting Collective Memory and Social Inclusion Theory: The Reduction to Political Memory in "Inclusive" Memorial Museums
Collective memory has become site of struggle both over power and meaning in the 21st century. The urgent and increasing global contestation over vehicles of collective memory, such as monuments and memorial museums, have not occurred in a vacuum of violence. Yet, there remains a scholarly gap in examining why memorialization is contested and what lessons are to be drawn for future memorialization projects. Of note, scholars in the latter half of the 20thcentury, a time period that witnessed the burgeoning of memorialization, neglected the intersection of the politicization of collective memory and social inclusion in the memorialization of traumatic events. The broader research interest of this thesis is how does collective memory of a traumatic past affect social inclusion? In order to examine these relationships on theoretical and empirical levels, I conduct a comparative case study of two memorial museums: the Partition Museum in Amritsar, India and the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos in Santiago, Chile. Hence, my research question is how and under what conditions do memorial museums, vehicles of collective memory, impact social inclusion? This thesis argues that memorial museums that address traumatic, historical pasts develop an overreliance on political memory, instead of balancing social and cultural memory, which undermines the cultural dimension of social inclusion for historically marginalized groups in their respective societies. Ultimately, this thesis contributes to theory building by uniquely combining three bodies of literature: collective memory, social inclusion, and memory studies. It concludes by offering real and practical suggestions to museum practitioners and social inclusion policy makers. In a time of immense global inequality, it remains vital to examine and revisit the intersection between collective memory and social inclusion theory.