Memorials and Conflict.

On Monday, August 3, 2015, Dr. Susan Hirsch wrapped up her morning discussion on “Justice and Law in Post-conflict Setting” with memorialization. Memorials are one way to remember an event and/or conflict, especially if justice has not been addressed by society. However the process of creating a memorial can cause conflict within various associated groups—from the survivors, to the public, to the government. The documentary “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision” by PBS examines Maya Lin’s design of the “Vietnam Veterans Memorial” and the conflict that arose around her proposal.

When Maya Lin’s design was selected by a national design competition, many felt that her design proposal was too abstract, not representative of the veterans, and there was opposition to its construction. (Maya was a Yale University architecture student when she won the competition with a design concept of a V-shaped wall representing a wound in the landscape. Rumor is that her professor gave her a “B” on this design.) Thankfully, her design was built with only a few additions (an American flag and two sculptures, which she herself opposed, but were added nonetheless).

I would recommend watching the documentary, which helps to explain the process of designing a memorial for a national competition and why Maya Lin’s design proposal was so controversial. And how, most importantly, in the end, the memorial represented (and continues to represent) a larger process of trauma, peacebuilding, and healing.