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Investigating sites of memory in Maříž: a mid-journey result of an ongoing piece of research.
text and graphic by Hugo Chmelař with photographs by Jack Laing Aiken

What you see here is a representation of Maříž based on my impression of the place and interviews with locals about topics such as personal history in the context of Maříž, perception of history, and places of memory.


As I am writing my bachelor thesis about sites of memory in the border village Maříž – investigating the ‘comparison of relationship to places of memory between locals and immigrants – I will share my annotation here for further explanation of this ongoing research process:


Maříž and its surroundings offer a unique landscape marked by historical events. It belongs to the area from which first the Czechs were evicted, then the Germans, and after the end of World War II, the border zone was created here, essentially leaving the town uninhabited. Restless population movements, complete emptying, and finally, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, reluctant rediscovery and resettlement. This has left a landscape marked by sediments of history and memory. The present and absent places of memory speak very loudly and create a unique atmosphere in the village.


In my initial research, I identified three distinct groups and one subgroup of residents arriving after 1989; the locals who moved to Maříž from nearby Slavonice; the new residents; and lastly a subset of new residents with migration experience - i.e. emigration from communist Czechoslovakia and the subgroup of cottagers.


The aim of my research will be to map the emotional connections and forms of remembering and the use of local sites of memory. I will attempt to record their perspectives in detail and then compare them. 


My hypothesis is that I expect more or less the same recollection to be associated with sites of memory linked to the major global events of the oppression of communism and Nazism, as this is the place where the curtain itself passed through, with the bunkers in the vicinity. I also expect that remembering these places will be more emotive regardless of locality, but the experience – either directly or indirectly – of the events in question will be more determinant, hence the subgroup with migration experience.

I expect a factual knowledge of older significant sites (Marienbad, crosses by the road) for all groups, but a deeper sentimental experience for local residents. I also need to consider the new places of memory (museum, art interventions, Maříž ceramics) for which I currently have no expectations.

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