The museumification of prisons in Tehran and Sulaymaniyah: power, collective memory and hegemony

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2019
Gaillard, Xavier
The purpose of this work is to analyze and compare from the lenses of power two former detention centers which have been turned into museums: Amna Suraka in Sulaymaniyah (Northern Iraq) and Ebrat in Tehran (Iran). These are memory sites condemning the former abuses of previous regimes’ police and intelligence apparatuses. The thesis looks at the rhetorical discourse they exhibit and combines it with distinct theories from the the social sciences – namely power relations, symbolic power, hegemony and populism- to better understand how they perceive their own national identities and pasts. To achieve this, the analysis focuses on the relationships these sites maintain with history, memory and space; and by taking into consideration specific details and over-arching traits. The resulting conclusion posits that even though these sites differ notably in terms of museographical presentation, style and content, they both share a similar fascistic investment in memory in how they attempt to fabricate a wider and permanent history. They can be observed as the result of hegemonic projects obeying to the logics of populism in regards to how they utilize trauma; and that they can be observed as nodal points in a wider urban-memorial network constructing the identity of their respective nations.

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Citation Formats
X. Gaillard, “The museumification of prisons in Tehran and Sulaymaniyah: power, collective memory and hegemony,” Thesis (M.S.) -- Graduate School of Social Sciences. Middle East Studies., Middle East Technical University, 2019.