Rectification as the return of sites of violence to prior use is little studied even as governments often defiantly reconstruct such sites and urge citizens to visit them as a way to combat ‘terror’. Using the case study of the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya and the subsequent return of the site to prior use, the article reflects on the broader practices of erasure of violence from public space as a unique form of a memory–security nexus. The article reads amnesia and its effects through material and social practices of rectification – renovation, fortification, closure and reopening, and the experiences of survivors and non-survivors in reinhabiting these spaces. The ways in which violence is vacated from space and speech, and the ways in which its absence is encountered by diverse people, produce a rich transcript on memory and its entanglements with security agendas. They also reveal the deleterious effects of politicized ‘triumphalist amnesia’ enlisted as a counter-terror tool, including the emotional tax and public distrust arising from non-recognition when memory is equated with vulnerability and forgetting with defiance. Triumphalist amnesia might produce the opposite effect – a failure to root out violence and insecurity among those asked to confront it.
- memory–security nexus
- sites of violence
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations