Revisiting Collective Memory and Social Inclusion Theory: The Encroachment of Political Memory on ‘Inclusive’ Memorial Museums in Chile and India
Advisors: Vazira Zamindar (History), Richard Snyder (Political Science)
Collective memory is a site of struggle over power and meaning. Yet, scholars in the late 20th century neglected the intersection of the politicization of collective memory and social inclusion initiatives. This scholarly gap calls upon researchers to ask how collective memory of a traumatic past affects social inclusion of marginalized groups. To examine these relationships on theoretical and empirical levels, I conduct a comparative case study of two memorial museums: The Partition Museum in India and the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos in Chile. I ask how and under what conditions memorial museums, vehicles of collective memory, impact the social inclusion process for marginalized communities in their respective societies. This thesis argues that memorial museums addressing traumatic pasts develop an over-reliance on political memory instead of balancing social and cultural memory, which undermines the cultural dimension and overall process of social inclusion. Ultimately, this thesis offers practical suggestions to museum practitioners and policy makers by uniquely combining three bodies of literature: collective memory, social inclusion, and memory studies. In a period of immense global inequality, it remains vital to revisit the intersection between collective memory and social inclusion to work towards a just future for all.
Keywords: Collective memory, Political memory, Social inclusion, Memorial museums, Partition, Mapuche