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The primary aim of this chapter is to comparatively analyse digital representations of trauma in Central Europe. While trauma has traditionally been understood as a radical form of insecurity describing the emotional impact of a horrendous event, recently it has been defined – instead of naturally existing – as something constructed by society. Using this notion of cultural trauma and “post-memory” as a point of departure, we are interested in how various places of trauma become reconstructed in the digital space. Within this process human agency plays a key role and, as such, we will also reveal what kind of “carrier groups” take the lead during “meaning making” and who becomes the audience of these new “framings”. Thus, our chapter has a double focus: besides elaborating on the dialectics between actual and digital placemaking activities related to certain traumas, we will also lay out the specific sociocultural processes that produce, challenge and adopt these new master narratives. After an introduction that will relate the theory of cultural trauma to the concept of post-memory, as well as to the digital turn in memory studies, our interdisciplinary team of an art historian, a media scholar and a sociologist will discuss three case studies from Koper-Capodistria (Slovenia), Belgrade (Serbia) and Budapest (Hungary). While all the cases reflect the historical event of World War II and its consequences, they represent three different modes of digit(al)ized trauma “making”. The case of Koper-Capodistria studies the formation of various Facebook groups that mirror the post-World War II event of the “Istrian exodus”, when the Italian population got largely displaced by newcomers from Slovenia and Yugoslavia. The two sides met again only in 2016 when the history of the city got in the spotlight on a social media site, which started to function as a vessel for divergent historic narratives and collective memories between Italians and Slovenes. In contrast to the digital dialogue the social media site generated and presented about the actual urban experiences of two distinct groups in Slovenia, the Serbian and Hungarian cases aimed more at an interaction between the urban and digital sites through various tools. While the case study from Serbia encompasses four projects of digital mapping of the Holocaust (“Semlin Judenlager in Serbian Public Memory”, “Staro Sajmište: The Living Death Camp Project”, “Visit to Staro Sajmište” and “Mapping the Holocaust”), the one from Hungary discusses the USC Shoah Foundation’s mobile app, IWalk, which connects concrete physical locations with testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses. The social media site (set up in 2016), the multimedia maps (created between 2008 and 2013) and the educational app (first launched in 2013) will all be understood as digitexts where histories, digital memories and trauma narratives meet: as digital cultural traumas. We believe that through the “reading” together of these cases from Central Europe, we will not only contribute to the understanding of the potential of digital placemaking and its role in processes of remembering that are often hindered by taboos, but we will also be ourselves able to “make” place for a deeper social solidarity and well-being.

Open Access
In: Placemaking in Practice Volume 1