Publication Details

McGregor, K. & Mackie, V. (2018). Transcultural Memory and the Troostmeisjes/Comfort Women Photographic Project. History and Memory: studies in representation of the past, 30 (1), 116-150.


In 2008 and 2009, a Dutch photographer, Jan Banning, and an anthropologist, Hilde Janssen, traveled around Indonesia to document, with photographs and testimonies, survivors of militarized sexual abuse by the Japanese military during the three-year occupation (1942-1945) of the former Dutch colony, the Netherlands East Indies. We argue that the resultant photographic project can best be understood within the framework of the "politics of pity" and the associated genres of representation. The project creators anticipated a cosmopolitan audience that might be moved to action to support the survivors. Yet, as the project was exhibited in different sites, the women's memories were interpreted through local knowledge systems and mnemonic practices. We analyze the reception of these photographs in diverse local contexts.

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