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Silence and Remembering: Locating the Cultural Trauma of Terrorism in London’s Museums, Archives and Memorials

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rhiannon MasonORCiD


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This chapter investigates how the terrorist attacks on the London transport system which took place on 7th July 2005 (known as ‘7/7’) have been remembered through some of the city’s museums, archives, and memorials. Taking this example of the 7/7 terrorist attacks, this chapter considers which factors lead to whether a museum represents certain cultural trauma, or not. It asks why museums might collect cultural trauma but not display it. It considers the ethical and logistical considerations of putting such private grief and loss on public display in a museum setting and for whose benefit museums collect and/or display contemporary trauma. It also explores whether, if museums are not representing cultural trauma like terrorism, this trauma is being publicly remembered elsewhere and by whom. This leads to a consideration of the differences between the way that museums, archives, and memorials deal with the memory of cultural trauma; I treat these as belonging to what I call ‘an ecology of public remembering’. Finally, this chapter asks how this particular case-study advances our theorisation of the concept of ‘silence’ in museums. This particular episode in London’s history, therefore, offers a way to think more generally about how and why certain historical events do, or do not, come to be represented in museums.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mason R

Editor(s): Bounia A; Witcomb A

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: In Press

Book Title: The Ethics of Collecting Trauma

Year: 2023

Acceptance date: 28/11/2023

Number of Volumes: 1

Publisher: Routledge

Place Published: London, New York