Saturday, 17 September 2011

Dominican Republic: Memory Museum (2)

Back in June, I mentioned that the Dominican Republic had opened a museum of memory. The New York Times now goes into more detail about the museum and the idea behind it, and it's worth a read. "This museum all but shouts for the era’s pain to be heard", writes the paper.
“We are rescuing the memory,” said Luisa de Peña Díaz, the director of the museum and one of its founders, whose father was killed in 1967 as he plotted an insurrection against the president at the time, Joaquín Balaguer.

Meanwhile, however, this version of history is facing a new challenge from a virtual competitor to the museum: the Museo Generalisimo Trujillo.
The counter-museum is the brainchild of L. Ramfis Domínguez-Trujillo, grandson of the dictator, who acknowledges his forebear was a “military dictator who did not tolerate freedom of speech” but believes that the death toll ascribed to him is inflated and includes killings by collaborators he was unaware of.
[...] “Did he commit a number of excesses? Absolutely. He was human. Was he a monster? Absolutely not,” Mr. Domínguez-Trujillo said in a telephone interview from Miami, where he lives.

It's an odd website, I have to say, with chirpy Dominican music and a layout more suited to a video game than a serious academic endeavour - not particularly user-friendly and takes a while to load even on my super-fast internet. A video clip explains that the memory of Trujillo and his rule has become "distorted" and the museum - currently only online, but with ambitions to become an actual place - wants to set the record straight. Well.

The "official" museum sounds like a well thought-out exhibition which will be useful, particularly for the younger generations who might not otherwise learn a great deal about their country's recent history.

A museum of repression aims to shock the conscience (New York Times)

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