On This Ground
April 17, 2009 8:48 AM   Subscribe

The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience is a directory of historic sites that interpret themes related to ethical, political, and social issues worldwide.
posted by Miko (5 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Actually it's more than a directory, it's a program in itself and also a portal.
posted by Miko at 8:49 AM on April 17, 2009

Is this a fairly new organization? Because it looks like there aren't many sites listed -- and that can't be because they don't exist in the world, is it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:01 AM on April 17, 2009

It is fairly new, having arisen from a more informal network of similar institutions before, but it has recently developed this structure. This recent NYT article says:
Started in Bellagio, Italy, in 1999, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience has expanded from 9 members — including New York’s Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the Terezin Memorial in the Czech Republic and the Slave House in Senegal — to 110 museums and historic sites in 29 countries. The coalition has helped push into the mainstream the once-controversial idea that history museums should foster discussions about contemporary issues.
Another reason there are not many sites is that you have to apply for accreditation with the group (ensuring accurate, responsible interpretation that deals with contemporary issues). I think that having an accreditation process creates a degree of self-selection: sites that have some relevance might still not emphasize the interpretation of history with a view to current issues, so they might opt not to do the work involved in the accreditation process.
posted by Miko at 9:08 AM on April 17, 2009

Even with the small selection, I found myself educated: everybody knows about Katyn, but I hadn't known about Mednoe:
In 1939, following the Molotov-Ribbentropp pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the eastern part of Poland was annexed by the USSR. As a result of this annexation, more than 20,000 Polish officers were taken to other parts of the Soviet Union. Over 6,000 of them were interned at the Ostashkov camp in the Tver region. In the spring of 1940 these Ostashkov camp Polish officers – policemen, border-guards and correctional officers – were all executed on orders from Stalin. Bodies of these officers were then brought to the Mednoe forest for burial in mass graves. Today, the remains of approximately 6,300 Polish officers have been identified at the site. Prior to 1989, when Mikhail Gorbachev opened the NKVD archives to the public, the Soviet government had blamed Nazi Germany for the executions.
Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 2:33 PM on April 17, 2009

I looked at all the sites: while I was aware of the injustice meted out in most of them, some sites were unknown to me. I do not know why I'm still surprise by the inhumanity of humans to other humans.
posted by francesca too at 8:38 AM on April 18, 2009

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