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Charred churches or iron harvests?

Charred churches or iron harvests? The bombing of London by the German Luftwaffe between August 1940 and May 1941 is a pervasive theme in popular memories and cultural representations of the Second World War, but it has been memorialized in a peculiarly restrained and disjointed manner. This article examines this phenomenon of memory fragmentation with reference to a specific site, St James’s Church Piccadilly. In contrast to these and other inscribed scraps of official memory I propose a re-examination of London’s ‘Iron Harvest’: the continual recovery of unexploded German bombs. By reconsidering James Young’s concept of the ‘counter-monument’ and the performativity of commemorative processes, I argue that these discoveries can be regarded as acts of commemoration. As the Second World War slips out of living memory we need more diverse and imaginative forms of remembrance to represent both the fragmented traces of modern wars and the absences they create. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Social Archaeology SAGE

Charred churches or iron harvests?

Journal of Social Archaeology , Volume 10 (1): 23 – Feb 1, 2010

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References (17)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 2010 The Author
ISSN
1469-6053
eISSN
1741-2951
DOI
10.1177/1469605309353122
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The bombing of London by the German Luftwaffe between August 1940 and May 1941 is a pervasive theme in popular memories and cultural representations of the Second World War, but it has been memorialized in a peculiarly restrained and disjointed manner. This article examines this phenomenon of memory fragmentation with reference to a specific site, St James’s Church Piccadilly. In contrast to these and other inscribed scraps of official memory I propose a re-examination of London’s ‘Iron Harvest’: the continual recovery of unexploded German bombs. By reconsidering James Young’s concept of the ‘counter-monument’ and the performativity of commemorative processes, I argue that these discoveries can be regarded as acts of commemoration. As the Second World War slips out of living memory we need more diverse and imaginative forms of remembrance to represent both the fragmented traces of modern wars and the absences they create.

Journal

Journal of Social ArchaeologySAGE

Published: Feb 1, 2010

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