Dr. Geoffrey Bird is a Professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University, Canada. He is the Project Lead of the War Heritage Research Initiative that has involved the production of over 30 short documentaries and other commemorative projects. His research also includes poverty alleviation, sustainability, strategic planning and education design.
Bird discusses the importance of taking note of issues and events, both in contemporary times and in the past. This act is not solely personal, however, as politics continues to shape the society within which commemoration occurs, thereby shaping the commemorative process itself. In this sense, according to Bird, commemoration will always contain an element of controversy. He also discusses the role of memorials in commemoration, using the Mirror Memorial in Amsterdam as an effective example; the memorial uses broken pieces of glass facing the sky, thereby prompting visitors to reflect on reality and identity.
Danger exists memory politics also, specifically that of “history being used as a weapon, to weaponize a certain perspective.” In response to this and other clashes around the world, Bird suggests that we need to find the common ground across cultures and generations.
This interview is part of the www.MemoryPolitics.ca activities: the project “European and North American Perspectives on Commemorating and Addressing Past Injustices” is co-funded by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Ottawa and the Jean Monnet Network “European Memory Politics” is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. The European Union support for the production of publications does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors and cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.