Proposed Session Title: "Suffering for the State: Touring and Commemorating Militarized Violence"
Suffering, pain, and death are the essence of war. Yet, the interpretive practices at military history sites tend to emphasize the heroic and triumphant over the experience of pain, illness, or fear of soldiers or civilian populations. Even when pain and suffering are foregrounded in the site’s interpretive narrative, the inability for visitors to experience the physical and emotional sensations of the moment affects how that memory is taken up. This panel will evaluate museums and national parks in which the absence or selected inclusion of pain and suffering underscores larger structural issues of how militarized violence becomes in/visible in national memory and discourse. Drawing on insights from trauma theory, disability studies, history, critical military studies, and cultural studies, the panelists will consider how military sites participate in the creation of a myth of disembodied, body-less, or “victimless” wars. Interested scholars should send an abstract (250 words) and short bio to Rusty Bartels (at rrbartels [at] ucdavis [dot] edu) and Ashley Bowen-Murphy (at ashley_bowen [at] brown [dot] edu) by January 5, 2015.