Suffer the Little Children: Urban Violence and Sacred Space 9781472550088

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Suffer the Little Children: Urban Violence and Sacred Space
 9781472550088

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Introduction Isabel L. Wollaston

Memorialization is arguably emerging as one of the most widespread responses to violent death and the suffering of the innocent (or those remembered as innocent) today. The essays in this concluding section all reflect, in differing ways, on the forms such memorlalisation can take and the questions they give rise to. Contributors focus on the African Diaspora's memory of slavery (Emmanuel Lartey); the variety of meanings attached to the Massacre of the Innocents (Martin Stringer); attempts to memorialise three very different examples of the death of young children (Kay Read); and three very different memorials in the United States (Frida Kerner Furman and Roy Furman). What conclusions can be drawn from such a diverse series of examples? One recurring theme is the tendency to portray the dead as innocent (a theme developed at length by Stringer), or to rely upon idealised memories. Such idealisation is apparent in the way those who die in war are refigured as 'the fallen'. By emphasising the 'glorious dead's' suffering and sacrifice, our attention is deflected from remembering the fact that they died while often actively engaged in trying to kill others. Likewise, the 'Africa' remembered and celebrated by the Diaspora, particularly by African Americans is not necessarily the Africa that exists in reality (see, for example, Lartey's discussion of the representation of Africa in Eddie Murphy's Coming lo Americu). Such a diverse set of examples serves to indicate the purpose and function of memorials. As Theodore Evans notes, 'to remember means what the word itself suggests; to re-member, to put together again, to reconstruct.'' Building memorials or developing rituals of remembrance can be a practical response to an overwhelming sense of loss, particularly when that sense of loss is accompanied by a sense of injustice, either in relation to the ways in which the dead died, or the reasons why they died. Read makes precisely this point when she argues that the three examples she is discussing all attempt

Introduction Isabel L. Wollaston

Memorialization is arguably emerging as one of the most widespread responses to violent death and the suffering of the innocent (or those remembered as innocent) today. The essays in this concluding section all reflect, in differing ways, on the forms such memorlalisation can take and the questions they give rise to. Contributors focus on the African Diaspora's memory of slavery (Emmanuel Lartey); the variety of meanings attached to the Massacre of the Innocents (Martin Stringer); attempts to memorialise three very different examples of the death of young children (Kay Read); and three very different memorials in the United States (Frida Kerner Furman and Roy Furman). What conclusions can be drawn from such a diverse series of examples? One recurring theme is the tendency to portray the dead as innocent (a theme developed at length by Stringer), or to rely upon idealised memories. Such idealisation is apparent in the way those who die in war are refigured as 'the fallen'. By emphasising the 'glorious dead's' suffering and sacrifice, our attention is deflected from remembering the fact that they died while often actively engaged in trying to kill others. Likewise, the 'Africa' remembered and celebrated by the Diaspora, particularly by African Americans is not necessarily the Africa that exists in reality (see, for example, Lartey's discussion of the representation of Africa in Eddie Murphy's Coming lo Americu). Such a diverse set of examples serves to indicate the purpose and function of memorials. As Theodore Evans notes, 'to remember means what the word itself suggests; to re-member, to put together again, to reconstruct.'' Building memorials or developing rituals of remembrance can be a practical response to an overwhelming sense of loss, particularly when that sense of loss is accompanied by a sense of injustice, either in relation to the ways in which the dead died, or the reasons why they died. Read makes precisely this point when she argues that the three examples she is discussing all attempt