Heroes and Ancestors

Heonik Kwon

in After the Massacre

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520247963
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939653 | DOI:
Heroes and Ancestors

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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

Chapter.  7537 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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