At a time of increasing state militarization across Asia and heightened tensions in East Asia and between India and Pakistan sensitivities over previous conflicts in the region have reached unprecedented levels.
Today the wars in Asia of 1931 to 1945 remain an open wound, triggering diplomatic disputes and new social movements and modes of political activism linking communities divided by national borders and even continents. Such developments represent the latest phase of a war memory ‘boom’ in Asia. Over the last ten years or so we have seen a rapid proliferation of museums, memorials, commemorative rituals, battlefield tours and re-enactments emerge across the region, all dedicated to the conflicts of the twentieth century.
The War Memoryscapes in Asia Project (WARMAP) traces these trends and developments, mapping both the multiple sites and events now dedicated to Asia's violent pasts, and the social and political forces which give rise to such heritage and memory practices today.
As an international and interdisciplinary network of academic specialists based in Europe, Asia and Australia, we ask a series of challenging questions: how is globalization and the enhanced connectivity it brings altering the remembrance of Asia's bloody and violent pasts? Are national enmities hardening, or are new routes to post-war reconciliation in the region being forged? How are memories of ‘difficult histories’ shifting, fading or arising on the back of ever greater economic integration and the intra-Asian movement of people, ideas and capital?
Led by the University of Essex, and funded by the United Kingdom’s Leverhulme Trust, WARMAP addresses these and other questions via a series of international workshops, seminars, training sessions, scholarly publications and online resources. Together, these various components of WARMAP examine the way violent pasts are being rediscovered and retold in Asia today, and how an emergent war heritage industry is reshaping the social, economic and political present. Are the preservation and museum sectors seeding future conflicts by antagonizing the collective memories of today?
Pursuing an approach that is comparative and transnational WARMAP moves beyond particular sites or national contexts, to open up new lines of enquiry concerning the politics, practices, spaces and interconnections of war memory and commemoration in Asia today.
In this regard, our intention is to contribute towards a more globally balanced understanding of war remembrance, and account for the complex forces that enmesh war heritage sites and practices in a region as fast changing as Asia.
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