Non-healing Rituals and how to build a peaceful future: between Memory and Oblivion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific


In this chapter, I discuss the issue of the need and obligation to remember wars, human rights abuses and other atrocities, versus the, perhaps wholesome, possibility to forget. Commemorations, monuments and memorial museums often have an educational function. ‘To remember’ serves the frequently used slogan ‘never again’ and we have to learn lessons from the past to prevent future atrocities. This approach to memory and dealing with the past that focuses on future generations, is valuable. There are cases, however, in which commemorations do not serve a peaceful future, but again and again fuel the conflicts of the past and dehumanize perpetrators and generations to come. In some cases, monuments lead to aggression as they only relate dominant narratives about the past events, leaving out minority voices. Seen from the perspective of ritual criticism, we might ask: what cultural majority mechanisms tend to value remembering and memorialization more than implicit narration and intentional ‘forgetting’? And who decides how and by what means the past events will be remembered?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAbsent Ritual. Exploring the ambivalence and dynamics of ritual
EditorsPaul Post, Martin Hoondert
Place of PublicationDurham
PublisherCarolina Academic Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781531013646
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameRitual Studies Monograph Series


  • Ritual
  • Commemoration
  • Oblivion
  • Memory
  • forgetting


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