Talk by Charlotte Heath-Kelly

Taking Pierre Nora to the Bombsite: Memory, Death and Capital

Dr. Charlotte Heath-Kelly, Associate Professor, Department of Politics and International Relations, Warwick University UK


Thursday April 6, 4-5:30

Humanities Institute Seminar Room, 4th floor of Babbidge Library


Pierre Nora has argued that: ‘we speak so much of memory because there is so little of it left’. For Nora, industrialisation and capitalist acceleration were the destroyers of traditional societal structures. Memory industries emerged as methods by which societies could then imagine continuity and identity in response to social dislocation. This talk takes Pierre Nora, and other scholars of memory’s political economy, to the terrorist bombsite. Building upon their historical sociologies of memorialisation, and using her fieldwork from the reconstruction efforts which followed the 9/11 attacks and European bombings, I explore the sublimation of the memorial (and the dead human) to economic agendas and broader rationales of ‘regeneration’ and urban renewal. In post-terrorist reconstruction, the human subject is profoundly displaced by governance which triages economic injury and blight. Economy thereby emerges as the terrain upon which counterterrorism is fought.


Heath-Kelly’s research focuses on critical analysis of terrorism. Among her publications is Death and Security: Memory and Mortality at the Bombsite (Manchester University Press: 2017) and “The Foundational Masquerade: Security as Sociology of Death,” in Masquerades of War, Christine Sylvester, ed. (Routledge: 2015). She is currently principal investigator on two funded research projects: “Resilience at the Bombsite: Reconstructing Post-Terrorist Space” and “Counterterrorism in the NHS: Prevent Duty Safeguarding and the New ‘Pathology’ of Radicalisation.”

Ssponsored by the Humanities Institute and the Department of Political Science