Representations are not merely objective truth, but encompass conscious selectivity and emphasis which shape and define the meaning we derive from a text. The importance of the Smithsonian's Bearing Witness to History site as both a historical and American representation causes a divergence in its purpose, between its obligation for factual accuracy and intrinsic support of specific cultural values. Deepa Mehta's film Earth (1996) demonstrates the manipulation of texts to shape the meaning we derive from the past, influenced by our memory of the past, distorted by personal context. Despite delving into different historical events, each text demonstrates the complementary relationship of historical truth and memory, a constructed dynamic process through which we emotionally connect with the past.
The Smithsonian Website presents a patriotic representation of 9/11, exploring the complexities evident in the interplay between history and memory through its deliberate inclusion and exclusion of testimony through the combination of form and intent. The website selectively utilises evidence to reinforce the ideologies of the hegemonic factions, such as the government, and create a largely singular version of history through an emphasis on the resilience and unification of its American victims in the face of attack, evidencing its underlying intention to evoke nationalistic sentiment. The subtle push towards American sympathy, underlining the biased nature of historical documentation, is evident through the prominently blue, white and red colours of the 'Americans side by side' poster, paralleling the colours of the American flag and connoting nationalistic zeal. Deliberate inclusions by curators to utilise a combination of highly emotive and emblematic objects, such as the tattered American flag and Chief Pfeifer's fireman hat, become a metaphorical representation of the enduring 'American Spirit' and the fireman hat manifesting the heroism which arose from the...
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