CED architecture Ph.D. candidate Valentina Rozas-Krause has focused her doctoral research on the penitential function of memorials, framing them as symbols of societal remorse and reparation. Her dissertation, titled “Everyday Urban Memory: Excavating the Culture of Apology,” argues that memorials are simultaneously quotidian and exceptional, “so ubiquitous that they are part of the city’s everyday life.”
In recognition of her impressive doctoral research, the Doreen B. Townsend Center for Humanities at UC Berkeley has awarded Rozas-Krause the Townsend Dissertation Fellowship for the 2018-19 academic year. The Townsend Center awards these fellowships yearly to 5-6 graduate students.
Rozas-Krause is currently conducting fieldwork in Berlin and Buenos Aires as part of a yearlong John L. Simpson Memorial Research Fellowship In International And Comparative Studies, awarded by UC Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies. Read a condensed description of her dissertation below.
“Everyday Urban Memory: Excavating the Culture of Apology”
Memorial sites in Berlin, Buenos Aires, and California serve as different entry points to analyze how contemporary memorial practices have excavated, constructed, and rebuilt sites affected by urban politics of forgetting: erasure, demolition, renewal, and suppression. These sites have been used as material witnesses to the crimes of abusive states and have been subjected to the erasure of criminal evidence by their perpetrators.
By analyzing how, after years of silence and consecutive material erasure, memory activists have re-discovered these sites of conflict, my research illuminates the human and material agencies behind contemporary memorialization.
My dissertation goes beyond conventional narrative readings of memorials in order to trace an emerging culture of apology and analyzes memorials as places for everyday life. Apologies have reshaped the memorial landscape of the past decades; built as signs of remorse or symbols of reparation, memorials have come to embody more than memory. At the same time, memorials have become so ubiquitous that they are part of the city’s everyday life.
Within this context, my study asks: What form does the culture of apology take in everyday life as read or understood in memorials? In doing so, I use memorialization to approach fundamental questions of humanist inquiry, including the tensions between memory and the city, the nature of nostalgia and preservation, the tension between everyday life and exceptionality, the debates around the representation of the past, and the relationship between local and global space.