Excavating Urban Memory: Finding the Ordinary and the Extraordinary in Cityscapes of Apology

Valentina Rozas-Krause
College of Environmental Design
UC Berkeley

As the practice of memorial-building has shifted in recent years to represent victims rather than heroes, replacing stories of victory with narratives of remorse, contemporary cities have experienced an increasing culture of apology that has driven their impulse to memorialize the past. While recent memory studies focus on national narratives of memory and trauma, their spatial effects are only examined in isolated cases. This is a study of memorials that departs from this academic convention on two levels: it breaks away from traditional memorial narratives in order to trace an emerging culture of apology and analyzes memorials as places for everyday life. This project looks at memorial sites in Berlin as entry points to analyze how contemporary memorial practices have excavated, constructed, and rebuilt sites affected by urban politics of forgetting.