Among political opportunities to achieve redress and repair, I investigate the right to erect memorials and museums to the eradicated past. Unlike courtroom-centered criminal justice solutions, museum-making remedies assume that the acts of acknowledging victims’ historical truths are forms of justice. My example of a proposed museum, one that involves both testimony and “dark tourism” to a site-specific location at an historical place of incarceration, is Derb Moulay Cherif in Casablanca, Morocco’s pre-eminent former torture center. My questions are concerned with how the public memory of difficult heritage is realized architecturally and when pairing architectural memorializations with development projects, how are victims’ histories deemed equally transformative in the social, visual, and economic spheres. This project engages with the large literature on Arab and Moroccan prison memoirs (in Arabic and French), architecture, museum studies, visual anthropology, oral history and human rights testimonies. Cross-cultural investigations combining human rights, visual anthropology, folklore, museum studies and architecture are at the center of my scholarship since my award-winning book, The Object of Memory: Arab and Jews Narrate the Palestinian Village (1998). My publications, museum exhibitions (as a curator or consultant), and video documentaries draw on interdisciplinary perspectives relevant to museum studies, human rights, oral history, and the Arab world.
Susan Slyomovics is Professor of Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. She holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
Her principal research fields are Gender, human rights, folklore and material culture, visual anthropology and Middle East and North Africa.
Jews and French Colonialism in Algeria, (co ed), Special guest edited issue of the Journal of North African Studies, vol. 17, no. 5, 2012.
Clifford Geertz in Morocco, (ed.), Routledge , 2010.
Waging War and Making Peace: Reparations and Human Rights, (co ed.), Left Coast Press, 2008.
The Performance of Human Rights in Morocco, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2005.
The Living Medina in the Maghrib: The Walled Arab City in Literature, Architecture, and History, (ed.), Frank Cass, London, 2001.
Women and Power in the Middle East, (co ed.), University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2001.
The Object of Memory: Arab and Jew Narrate the Palestinian Village, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1998.
The Merchant of Art: An Egyptian Hilali Oral Epic Poet in Performance, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1987.