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Encountering the Victims of Romanian Communism: Young People and Empathy in a Memorial Museum.

Cretan, R., Light, D., Richards, S. and Dunca, A., 2018. Encountering the Victims of Romanian Communism: Young People and Empathy in a Memorial Museum. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 59 (5-6), pp. 632-656.

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DOI: 10.1080/15387216.2019.1581632

Abstract

Many states in post-communist East-Central Europe have established memorial museums which aim to tell the story of suffering under the communist regime. They also seek to encourage visitors to develop empathy for the victims of communist repression.This paper explores the responses of a group of young people to a memorial museum in Romania (Sighet Memorial Museum), focusing on how these visitors experienced empathy for the victims of communist-era violence. Data were collected using focus groups. Most participants showed a degree of empa- thy for the victims of suffering but this was usually shallow in nature. However some visitors displayed more“active” empathy (characterized by deeper imaginative and cogni- tive engagement). The paper explores how both the design and environment of the museum and the back- ground experiences of visitors influenced the develop- ment of empathy. It argues that empathy is not an automatic response to suffering and instead can be con- sidered as an interaction between the design of the museum and the background knowledge of visitors. The paper argues that empathy is an important means for young people to participate in remembering the commu- nist period, and is a means to make“prosthetic”memories of an authoritarian past which they have not experienced first-hand.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:1538-7216
Uncontrolled Keywords:Memorial museum; empathy; prosthetic memory; Romania; communism
Group:Faculty of Management
ID Code:31832
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:20 Feb 2019 12:37
Last Modified:09 Apr 2019 15:23

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