Purification and translation in public memory: “Healing the landscape” at the Flight 93 National Memorial

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In order to investigate the role of the material in public memory, this paper examines the National Park Service's General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (GMP/EIS) for the creation of the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA, the location of one of the 9/11 sites where passengers and crew aboard an airliner were killed when it crashed into a legacy coal mining site in southwestern Pennsylvania. The analysis uses a discourse analytic approach to treat the GMP/EIS as a textual artifact reflecting the discursive work of purification and translation in public memory necessary in order to sustain the distinction between the sacred and profane. We draw upon actor-network theory (ANT) to devise a rhetorical-analytic method capable of examining the dialectical qualities within the work of memorialization. Our analysis has implications for environmental discourses and other places at the intersection of science, collective memory, and the public sphere, as the articulation of the sacred and the profane within the document opens up a space for the political as the coordination of disparate elements within a larger whole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-47
Number of pages16
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
StatePublished - Nov 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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