Staging battlefields: Media, authenticity and politics in the Museum of Communism (Prague), The House of Terror (Budapest) and Gedenkstätte Hohenschönhausen (Berlin)

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This article analyses the construction of authenticity in three sites commemorating oppression under state socialism. I demonstrate that each of the sites aims to incorporate the physical involvement of the visitor as part of its educational programme. This observation is linked to the political potential of ‘prosthetic memory’, that is, bodily memory of events one has not experienced. The methods used to achieve this immersive visitor experience are assessed in each site and the potential impact on the individual consuming the exhibit is considered. I argue that the success of prosthetic memory depends not, or not only, on the authenticity of the artefacts, but also on the nature of the interpretation that accompanies them. An overpoliticized narrative, which does not allow the individual to make meaning for him or herself, is likely to focus attention away from the objects and may result in ‘disinheritance’ of particular visitor groups.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of War and Culture Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011