Between 2009 and 2011, Canada’s Conservative government commissioned the National Holocaust Monument and the Memorial to the Victims of Communism–two projects in a series of nine aimed at re-shaping Ottawa’s commemorative landscape. The monuments introduced uncharacteristically jagged forms, and to an extent the frayed discourses, of transnational counter-memory culture into a landscape largely preoccupied with figuration and heroism. Both Canadian monuments come to us with long and connected formal, conceptual, and socio-historical lineages that follow the transnational evolution of the conjoined and conflated memories of Fascism, Communism, and their accompanying commemorative forms. These forms and tropes, conceived and processed in the specific climate of the German Historikerstreit of the 1980s, are deeply intertwined with a shift towards counter-memory and accusatory rather than celebratory monuments. While potentially productive as embodiments of ‘multidirectional’ memory practices, in many ways, the Canadian monuments sublate possibilities for ‘working through the past’ into affirmations of nationalism bought at the cost of a productive public discussion about human rights abuses perpetrated in Canada.

Communism, Fascism, Holocaust, memorial, monument, multidirectional memory, Ottawa, settler-colonialism
Citizenship Studies
School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies

Dolgoy, R.C. (Rebecca Clare), & Elzanowski, J. (2018). Working through the limits of multidirectional memory: Ottawa’s Memorial to the Victims of Communism and National Holocaust Monument. Citizenship Studies, 22(4), 433–451. doi:10.1080/13621025.2018.1462507