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This book explores one of the most intractable problems of human existence – our propensity to inflict violence. It provides readers with case studies of political, social, economic, religious, structural and interpersonal violence from across the entire globe since 1800. It also examines the changing representations of violence in diverse media and the cultural significance of its commemoration. Together, the chapters provide in-depth understanding of the ways that humans have perpetrated violence, justified its use, attempted to contain its spread, and narrated the stories of its impacts. Readers also gain insight into the mechanisms by which the parameters about the acceptable limits to and locations of violence have dramatically altered over the course of a few decades. Leading experts from around the world have pooled their knowledge to provide concise, authoritative examinations of the complex phenomenon of human violence. Annotated bibliographies provide overviews of the shape of the research field.
In historical study, the inaudible is the unknowable. Even in the sphere of twentieth-century history, vast tracts of auditory experience – especially in wartime – are completely undocumented. The upshot of this truth is that only with a full sense of the limitations both of our auditory archives and of what can be represented honestly can we construct representations of war that avoid distortion or sanitization. This is particularly true in museum exhibitions on war, where it is now fashionable to use false sound to offer the visitor what is termed "total immersion in history." This approach is a dead end. Instead, we need to leave unsaid that which is false or invented or commercially effective and stage-managed in our museums and other public representations of war. Fake noise is fake history. This chapter uses the experience of the Historial de la Grande Guerre, a museum of the Great War in France, to demonstrate that silence is an important signifier of what we do not know and cannot know about the past. Only when we realize this simple truth can museum designers and curators serve the very large population of people who seek a deeper understanding of war in historical museums around the world.