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Australian POW and occupation force experiences in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A digital hyper-visualisation

Bender, S. and Broderick, M. (2017) Australian POW and occupation force experiences in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A digital hyper-visualisation. In: Taylor, N.A.J. and Jacobs, R., (eds.) Reimagining Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Routledge as part of Taylor and Francis, pp. 108-122.

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Introduction For contemporary visitors to Hiroshima and Nagasaki the legacy of the Bomb is mostly abstract: these places are pre-inscribed with historical and social significance. While these two cities were subject to catastrophic erasure in August 1945, after reconstruction there remained surprisingly few physical artefacts to remind visitors of the atomic bombings. So how do residents and visitors make sense of these unique ‘places’? While the respective Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bomb Museums and Peace Parks display multiple forms of memory work (from dioramas, audio-visual productions and bomb simulations, to survivor testimony and artwork) a pedestrian wandering the central avenues and boulevards may find it difficult to discover the Atom bombs’ visible imprint upon the twenty-first century cities. The nuclear conflagration that instantaneously consumed the wartime infrastructure was quickly replaced by the rebuilding of Japan, overseen by Occupation troops. The annihilation of place was subsumed by the rapid return to industrial and technological prowess under a new peacetime Constitution. The topographic erasure was itself erased and literally re-placed. Comparison panoramic photographs taken 70 years apart from near identical camera positions at street level reveal the radical transformation that has occurred in these locations (Figures 8.1-8.2). However, there is also a unique, mostly forgotten, Australian legacy both physically and psychically etched upon the ‘traumascapes’ (Tumarkin 2005) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For Tumarkin, traumascapes are:

much more than physical settings of tragedies: they emerge as spaces, where events are experienced and re-experienced across time. Full of visual and sensory triggers, capable of eliciting whole palettes of emotions, traumascapes catalyse and shape remembering and reliving of traumatic events. It is through these places that the past, whether buried or laid bare for all to see, continues to inhabit and refashion the present [… They] are a distinctive category of place, transformed physically and psychically by suffering [and are] precisely the places that remind us that the past cannot simply be erased, or for that matter, simply reconstructed.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Publisher: Routledge as part of Taylor and Francis
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