Silence is golden: Commemorating the past in two minutes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Drawing on Jack Santanio’s concept of ‘performative commemoration’ this chapter explores how silence speaks in multitudinous ways. Adopting this lens is significant for three reasons. First, it helps to (re)establish an affinity between silence and speaking. Second, the concept of a ‘performative commemoration’ allows us to gain a richer appreciation of the collaboration between silence and sound. Third, Santanio’s concept shows that the use of silence as a commemorative gesture achieves a special intensity precisely because it is always incomplete. Empirically this chapter examines the two minutes of silence created to remember the Armistice of World War 1. This analysis takes the chapter into a discussion of how wartime narratives are produced, consumed and commercialised. These themes also point to the interweaving of social media and performative commemorative practices. Looking ahead, the chapter concludes that it will be vital to understand the dynamic interactions between that exist between spontaneous and ritualised participation in commemorative performances. With this in mind it calls for readers to examine how different threads of agency and power get tied together in during the two minutes silence rather than automatically assuming that it is ‘golden’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical Silence
Subtitle of host publicationMeanings, Functions and Ambiguity
EditorsSophia Dingli, Thomas N. Cooke
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781315104928
ISBN (Print)9781138097353
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2018

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