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Making Sense of Ruins: Architectural Reconstruction and Collective Memory in Belgrade

  • Gruia Bădescu (a1)

Fifteen years after the 1999 NATO bombings, a number of emblematic buildings in Belgrade still lie in ruins and are at the center of debates surrounding their reconstruction. This article examines the collective memory and narratives of the NATO bombings through a spatial lens, looking at how architectural discourses of reconstruction relate to multiple understandings and narratives of the bombings themselves. It focuses on how architects in Belgrade discuss and envision the reconstruction of buildings such as the Generalštab in relationship to the collective memories of political violence and war. The article explores the continuum between calls for full restoration and memorialization, by discussing how architects relate to the bombing of 1999 on personal and professional levels, and how narratives of the bombing influence architectural visions for the reconstruction itself. All in all, the article argues that architectural reconstruction, collective memory, and national identity shape each other. On the one hand, reconstruction responds to collective memory as architects make sense of the collective memory of war; on the other hand, reconstructed urban space reshapes memory by creating a new cadre matériel for remembrance.

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Nationalities Papers
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