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After the MassacreCommemoration and Consolation in Ha My and My Lai$
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Heonik Kwon

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247963

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247963.001.0001

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Heroes and Ancestors

Heroes and Ancestors

(p.103) CHAPTER 5 Heroes and Ancestors
After the Massacre

Heonik Kwon

University of California Press

In Western Europe, mass death in the First World War invigorated the traditional belief in martyrdom and resurrection, and the tombs of fallen soldiers and the cenotaphs became forceful emblems of national unity. The transformation of war heroes from passive objects of commemoration to active participants in local memory was an effect of bringing the war memorial to the domain of kinship. This chapter describes how traditional ancestor worship reemerged into the hero-centered political culture and how ancestors and ghosts once again became formative categories, as is prevalent in the present world. It discusses how the identity of the victims of mass death goes beyond the conceptual boundaries drawn between war heroes, ancestors, and ghosts, and how their memory is distributed across the sites dedicated to these different categories. This is illustrated by describing the political transformation in the light of the shifting places of war heroes.

Keywords:   Western Europe, First World War, martyrdom, resurrection, war heroes

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