Why Spaç exactly?

A number of the political prisoners who were taken to Spaç prison were artists, writers and other intellectuals, many of whom have spoken out about their experience in recent years. This has helped to make Spaç one of the most symbolic sites for the horror of persecution under the Communist regime, as well as perhaps the site that is most present in the collective memory of Albanians. As such, the primary value of Spaç today is as a much-needed place of memory for the crimes of the Communist regime —a physical space to ‘locate’ and address the traumas of that past, both for the former political prisoners who suffered there and for the rest of the Albanian people. Such sites of memory can represent not only the trauma of that period, but also resistance to and, ultimately, the downfall of the former regime.

Spaç signsToday, there seems to be a growing consensus among institutions, citizens and civil society actors that Spaç could and should serve as a place for documenting and confronting the abuses of human rights that occurred under the Communist regime. In addition, this site will be an important means of teaching Albanians and foreigners about this difficult period of history in a deep, experiential way. This comes at a time when tourism demand for former Communist sites is on the rise, potentially creating a much-needed economic opportunity for the local community, which is suffering from chronic poverty and steady emigration.

Finally, the success of Spaç in dealing with this specific type of heritage would make it possible to form a contemporary approach to revitalizing the sites of persecution in Albania, hoping that after Spaç, the same process could be undertaken for Qafe Bari, Bënça and so on with many more sites of conscience.

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