Rust and Dust: Materiality and the feel of memory at Camp des Milles

Abstract : In this article we explore the potential of state-sponsored memory sites to engender multi-chronological and sensorial accounts of the past, and create new meanings for visitors in doing so. We do so through recounting first hand experiences of the Camp des Milles, a Second World War internment and deportation camp in the south of France, near Aix-en-Provence. Inaugurated in 2012, in addition to being an official lieux de mémoire, Camp des Milles also has an explicit pedagogical function in seeking to raise awareness of racism and anti-semitism, and how to combat it. The article hinges on oral accounts of a visit to the site, and accompanying photographs, which together provide an empirical starting point for a series of linked concepts that frame our arguments. Beginning with Manning's (2015) notion of the 'minor gesture', we build on recent work on more-than-representational approaches to memory and place, and draw in explorations of materiality and industrial ruins. Overall, we call for a more subtle and atmospheric understanding of state-sponsored memory sites, one that attends to the emergent experiences people have in them, that can allows us to understand their affective impact much more clearly, and thus their potential to promulgate and intensify their messages.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02114911
Contributor : Matthew Graves <>
Submitted on : Monday, April 29, 2019 - 11:47:39 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 1:32:25 AM

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Shanti Sumartojo, Matthew Graves. Rust and Dust: Materiality and the feel of memory at Camp des Milles. Journal of Material Culture, SAGE Publications (UK and US), 2018, 23 (3), pp.328-343. ⟨10.1177/1359183518769110⟩. ⟨hal-02114911⟩

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