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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), 632-656.

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PDF (This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Eurasian Geography and Economics on 18 February 2019, available online:
Eurasian Geographies Final Pre-print Version.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


DOI: 10.1080/15387216.2019.1581632


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
Uncontrolled Keywords:Memorial museum; empathy; prosthetic memory; Romania; communism
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:31832
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:20 Feb 2019 12:37
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:14


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