The Coalition is pleased to announce our participation in an upcoming conference organized by the University of Massachusetts – Amherst Center for Heritage and Society.
This international conference, “Why Does the Past Matter?,” explores how preservation and heritage affect culture, economics, identity, ecology and civil society. Co-sponsored by the Coalition, the conference brings together almost 200 speakers from 34 countries, including a representative from the Coalition at the session “Places of Memory and Sites of Conscience.” The registration deadline is fast approaching; visit http://www.whydoesthepastmatter.org to learn more. The conference will be held May 4-7 in Amherst, Massachusetts.
UPDATED AGENDA AVAILABLE HERE (PDF).
“Remembering Guantánamo” will bring together historians, advocates, museum professionals, and others to explore Guantánamo Bay as a “state of exception” in American politics and political culture and imagine strategies for building public awareness of Guantánamo’s century-long history – its exceptional and commonplace uses and re-uses – to inspire citizen engagement in what happens there next.
To “remember” Guantánamo is not to place it in the past. The Obama Administration’s recent decisions to uphold military tribunals confirm that the detention facilities will remain open, its prisoners held there indefinitely. Gitmo is not behind us.
But it does have a past, one that can provide critical perspective on what should happen now. How did we get here? How can looking at Guantánamo’s long history of use and reuse help us understand and shape its future? How can we keep the story of Guantánamo and the questions it raises in the public eye?
The symposium is part of the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, an effort by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience to foster public engagement in the history of Guantánamo and its implications for the future. The 2011 symposium will include framing remarks from:
Through debates on broader issues and critiques of specific elements, the event will shape the next phase of the Project, including a web platform, an edited volume, exhibits, and curricula. Please click here to read the full agenda online, or here to download a PDF.
“Remembering Guantánamo” is sponsored by the Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights, University Seminar on History, Redress, and Reconciliation, Oral History Research Office, and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.
To RSVP visit http://hrcolumbia.org/guantanamo/attend.
The symposium will be held at the Jerome Greene Annex at Columbia University in Manhattan. Click here for directions.
UPDATE: Due to the current political instability in the region, the workshop has been postponed from May until a later date in 2011. Check back soon.
As calls for a break from past repressions ring out from Egypt to Libya, how can the lessons of history be tapped to envision new futures? What steps can Sites of Conscience in the Middle East and North Africa take as centers for engaging people in building democracy in the present, while remembering the past? And at this historic moment, will new Sites of Conscience such as Tahrir Square, Egpyt, where so many protests took place, emerge?
At its first Middle East and North Africa Sites of Conscience workshop in 2011, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience will debate and address these questions with prominent memory initiatives from Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and other countries in the region.
The workshop, co-hosted by the Coalition and the International Center for Transitional Justice, will be held in Morocco, the first country in the region to have completed a groundbreaking Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER ), in 2005. Since then, the government has been working to implement the IER’s recommendations and has recently begun to work more actively on collective reparations, including how to memorialize former sites of detention.
The Coalition will release a report on memorialization in Morocco, which includes an analysis of the challenges and opportunities for memorializing Moroccan detention centers and case studies from former sites of detention and torture in other parts of the world.
This regional workshop brings together Moroccan stakeholders, from government to victims’ associations, along with representatives from memory initiatives in the region to share their experiences, explore how they might work together, and develop recommendations for how the Coalition can support work in the region.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Conference
March 2-4, 2011
Vancouver, BC, Canada
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada hosted a three day conference on the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools.
From the 1870s to 1996, more than 150,000 First Nation, Métis, and Inuit children were placed in government-funded, Church-run boarding schools, where many were stripped of their lingual and cultural identities. In the last decade, a settlement between former students and the government led to the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to begin repairing the harm.
The conference brought together organizations that have worked on efforts of healing and memory, including the International Coalition, the Shoah Foundation, the South African History Archives, the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, and Museo de la Memoria y de los Derechos Humanos. The advice and best practices they shared will go towards creating a National Research Center, where this history will be researched, archived, and remembered.
Learn more about the conference on the TRC of Canada website.
Dialogue Across Difference: Coalition Hosted Seminar
February 14-16, 2011
New York City
History scholars and representatives from seven US Sites of Conscience convened in New York to discuss how to use history to foster conversation on immigration today.
As Sites of Conscience, these museums have committed to using history as a tool to inspire action on pressing social issues. But the group discussed the best ways of doing this when it comes to the immigration debate, focusing on best practices at each site, how to foster conversation and exchange among their sites and how to develop a better understanding of local and international immigration issues.
The seminar included scholars Hasia R. Diner, Donna R. Gabaccia, David Goldfield, Alan Kraut, and Jack Tchen and staff from Wing Luke Asian Museum, Ellis Island, Japanese American National Museum, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, National Civil Rights Museum, and Levine Museum of the New South. These Sites are part of the Immigration Sites of Conscience Network, which came together in 2008 to develop new public dialogues on community immigration issues at each of their locations.
Engaging Youth in Conflict Affected Areas: An Update on Challenges and Successes, and a Road Map for the Future
Washington, DC, United States
January 20-21, 2011
Coalition Secretariat staff participated in a symposium looking at the effects of violence on young people and whether current practices for assisting these youth should be reevaluated. The “Youth Policy Symposium Series” has been initiated and is convened by the Open Society Foundations and the British Council. Each symposium is organized together with a range of partners. Based on the workshop discussions, secretariat staff will explore on how museums in conflict-affected areas can better address the needs of children and students through their programs.
First International Summit of Sites of Conscience
November 21 to 23, 2010
The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience participated for the first time in Brazil’s international Summit on how places of memory can help build democracy. Organized by the Amnesty Commission of the Ministry of Justice and Brazilian members of the Coalition, Memorial da Resistência (Resistance Memorial) and Núcleo de Preservação da Memória Política (Center for the Preservation of the Political Memory), the Summit brought Coalition Board members from around the world to share global experiences on how collective memory of the past can foster collective action for the future.
On the heels of Brazil’s historic election of its first female president, the Summit invited reflection and discussion on key questions on the role of memory in promoting civic engagement such as: How can memories of conflict be harnessed to inspire peace? What is the relationship between memorialization and other mechanisms of transitional justice? And how can we create memorialization policies that support the building of strong democracies?
Coalition representatives included Ruth Abram, Founder, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, USA; Doudou Diène, Former United Nations Special Rapporteur On Contemporary Forms Of Racism, Xenophobia And Related Intolerance, Senegal; Jean-Louis Luxen, Former Secretary General of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Belgium; Patricia Tappatá de Valdez, Director, Memoria Abierta, Argentina; and W. Richard West, Founding Director Emeritus, National Museum of the American Indian, USA.
FRA Conference: Holocaust and Human Rights Education
Terezín, Czech Republic
October 19-20, 2010
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) hosted a conference for leading practitioners and policymakers on the Holocaust and human rights education at Terezín Memorial, the former Jewish ghetto and work camp. The conference highlighted FRA’s Holocaust Education and Human Rights Education (2008-2012) project, which includes the first EU-wide study on Holocaust-related sites and exhibitions and their role in Holocaust education. At the conference, Sites of Conscience like the Peace School Foundation of Monte Sole and the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, which each remember different aspects of Nazi terror, shared their work as examples of how Sites successfully use their pasts to promote awareness and action today.
Latin American Sites of Conscience Regional Workshop
Buenos Aires, Argentina
September 13-15, 2010
Memoria Abierta hosted this fourth-annual regional meeting. Members of the Coalition from across Latin America gathered to share their work on utilizing memory in struggles for human rights and democracy. The workshop kicked off with a public dialogue: Asociación Paz y Esperanza (Peru), Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas (Mexico), Museo de la Memoria (Argentina), Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Chile) and Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (El Salvador) shared their different perspectives and approaches on how their sites contribute to building public memories of dictatorship, armed conflict, and human rights violations.
This open discussion in a public forum set the stage for the three-day workshop, which brought together Sites of Conscience from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay. Focused around “Transitions to Democracy,” a unifying theme for many sites across Latin America, the workshop explored methodologies for Sites of Conscience to use memory in engaging the public in the process of transition to democracy in their countries.
Second International Conference on Genocide, Truth and Justice
July 30-31, 2009
The Liberation War Museum organized this conference at a time when Bangladesh was actively pursuing trials for the perpetrators of murder, rape and arson that took place during nine months in 1971, when Bangladesh was emerging as a sovereign nation.
The conference brought to focus the multifarious legal, interpretational and implementation issues which were expected to occur while the trials were being held. Representatives from Yugoslavia, South Africa, Rwanda, Cambodia and other nations shared their experiences with and views on genocide, and a special program involved members of the local population, including witnesses, victims of genocide, and youth.
Materials from the conference, including the agenda and papers, are accessible on the Museum’s website.
2009 Sites of Conscience Summit
Memphis, TN, United States
June 26-30, 2009
Sites of Conscience as far apart and varied as Memoria Abierta (Argentina), Liberation War Museum (Bangladesh), Constitution Hill (South Africa), and the Gulag Museum at Perm-36 (Russia), gathered for the first time at a US Site of Conscience – the National Civil Rights Museum. Together with international leaders in human rights and heritage, these historic sites shared strategies of how museums in diverse contexts can foster ongoing civic participation in key civil rights and civil liberties issues in a new political era. Participants analyzed the National Civil Rights Museum’s programs; shared their own latest work; and devised diverse principles and practices for using Sites of Conscience to inspire active participation on today’s important civil rights issues.
International Summit of Sites of Conscience
June 16-20, 2008
Sites of Conscience leaders gathered at the Monte Sole Peace School Foundation to workshop their latest models of citizen engagement programs and develop a common toolkit of diverse program designs and principles. Participants evaluated the Peace School’s methodologies and program designs; workshopped their own latest designs for dialogue programs; and, based on these case studies, began developing a development toolkit.
Global Conference on Memorialization and Democracy: State Policy and Civic Action
June 20-22, 2007
The Coalition, its Chilean member Corporación Parque por la Paz Villa Grimaldi, in collaboration with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the Latin American Faculty of Social Science-Chile (FLACSO-Chile), hosted a major international conference to develop a policy framework for how memorialization can assist in building lasting cultures of human rights.
The conference brought together policy-makers and practitioners in human rights, democracy building, historic preservation, education, tourism, and urban planning to develop frameworks that support Sites of Conscience. Participants identified policies for developing Sites of Conscience as new spaces for citizen engagement and as integral parts of any democratic society.
The recommendations from the conference have been developed into the publication Memorialization and Democracy: State Policy and Civic Action.
You can also read: Program, Participants List
2006 Sites of Conscience Workshop
June 25 – July 3, 2006
Historic Sites of Conscience from Russia and around the world gathered in Perm, home of the Gulag Museum at Perm-36, to develop new ways to foster civic engagement. The 2006 Summit came at a crucial time for the Gulag Museum and the development of a new museum practice in Russia, where the memory of totalitarianism is rapidly disappearing and democratic freedoms are under threat.
Putting the Human Back in Human Rights Forum
New York, NY, United States
April 11, 2006
The Coalition, Open Society Institute (OSI), and Ford Foundation hosted a forum to examine how Sites of Conscience are being used to inspire and support broad citizen engagement in human rights issues. Moderated by OSI President Aryeh Neier, panelists included Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch; Juan Mendez, executive director of the International Center for Transitional Justice; and Patricia Tappatá de Valdez, director of Memoria Abierta.
Who Owns the Past? Heritage Rights and Responsibilities in a Multicultural World
March 22 – 25, 2006
The Department of Culture of the Province of East-Flanders and the Ename Center for Public Archaeology organized a three-day event to examine questions relating to public rights and responsibilities in the preservation and interpretation of cultural heritage, with a view toward highlighting new approaches, methodologies, and technologies to aid in this task. Representatives from the Coalition Secretariat, Monte Sole Peace School and The Workhouse demonstrated how museums and historic sites can open new conversations about contemporary issues and inspire communities worldwide to become actively involved on issues of democracy building and social justice.
Using the Past to Shape the Future: Addressing Civic Issues at Historic Sites, Museums, and Cultural Centers
Chicago, IL, US
November 18 – 19, 2005
The Coalition partnered with the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum to host a national conference exploring how museums, historic sites, and historical societies can serve as centers for dialogue on pressing social issues. Historic sites from around the world presented successful strategies for promoting dialogue on difficult topics, and participants discussed how historic sites can collaborate with their communities and inspire civic engagement among youth.
2005 Sites of Conscience Workshop
Cape Town, South Africa
May 25 – June 3, 2005
The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience took critical new steps to expand its reach; deepen its practice; and develop a new structure for growth.
Hands on District Six: Landscapes of Post-Colonial Memorialization
Cape Town, South Africa
May 25 – 28, 2005
“Hands on District Six” brought together more than 200 international leaders and local residents to explore the role of Sites of Conscience in the new South Africa. The conference reflected on District Six Museum’s growth as an institution and its role in the return of ex-residents to the barren landscape of the District Six neighborhood. The conference also addressed how emerging practices of memorialization can help to build a humane and democratic public culture in South Africa.
Reflections of Community
Grand Rapids, MI, United States
October 20 – 22, 2004
The Coalition delivered the keynote address to more than 500 museum professionals from the Great Lakes Region of the United States at the Joint Annual Conference of the Association of Midwest Museums and the Michigan Museums Association.
New Tactics in Human Rights International Symposium
September 29 – October 4, 2004
Human rights workers gathered to share innovative tactics to promote human rights and democracy. Coalition Members from Bangladesh, South Africa, and the United States trained leaders from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kenya, the Philippines, Turkey and other regions on how they could use sites of memory to develop lasting cultures of human rights.
2004 Sites of Conscience Workshop
Terezín, Czech Republic
July 13 – 18, 2004
Members of the Coalition came together at Terezín Memorial, Czech Republic, to address challenges their museums face in fostering public dialogue on human rights issues. Members discussed how the history of the Holocaust could be used to address contemporary issues and brainstormed strategies for inspiring visitors to think critically about society and their role in shaping it.
Great Places, Great Debates: Opening Historic Sites to Civic Engagement
New York, NY, United States
April 1 – 2, 2004
“Great Places, Great Debates”, a National Park Service Conference co-hosted by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the Regional Plan Association in New York City, was designed to nurture a growing movement establishing historic places as our new town halls, active centers for citizen participation.
Activating the Past: An International Symposium on Sites of Conscience
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
March 19, 2004
“Activating the Past” offered a forum for exploring how historic sites and museums can be used to address critical and controversial issues in our communities and what role memory and museums can play in the democracy-building. Sessions included facilitated workshops on questions Sites of Conscience raise for the museum field, as well as particular strategies for developing Sites of Conscience practices in various local contexts.