Why dialogues for Spaç?

Over the past two decades, a lack of constructive dialogue about Albania’s recent past has served to ingrain and repress the traumatic social memory surrounding that history. Issues of Communist history and memory have been addressed on the public stage largely as part of political power plays and mutual accusations of wrongdoing, rather than as a healthy dialogue to try to understand and face the past.

In recent years, a number of scholars have suggested that heritage which reflects the memory of a traumatic past could become a means of overcoming such trauma – a heritage of reconciliation. By addressing the personal and collective Communist-era histories through such a powerful site of memory as Spaç prison, this project seeks to take important first steps toward demystifying the Communist past, disempowering the empty political rhetoric surrounding that history and providing people with a personal, tangible platform for a healthy historical dialogue. There are many good people and good ideas floating around Albania, but often they don’t know about or reach out to each other. This project will help to facilitate shared information, coordination of activities and, finally, a shared plan of action.

One major theme of this project would be that there is not one way to read the experience of Communism in Albania—the experiences and perspectives are as varied as the people who have suffered, survived and went about their lives in many different ways. The key to interpretation is providing a space for these voices to tell their story. Through groups of people from different backgrounds coming together and engaging in dialogue about the past and the future of Spaç, this project will foster an exchange of perspectives, which is intended to carry over into the public discourse on Spaç and Communist heritage generally in Albania.

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