Memorializing Pearl Harbor: Unfinished Histories and the Work of Remembrance
Geoffrey M. White is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i. He is the coeditor of Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War(s), also published by Duke University Press, and author of Identity through History: Living Stories in a Solomon Islands Society.
Making a New Museum
This chapter tells the story of the planning and construction of a new visitor center and museum for the memorial. The opening of a new visitor center complex in 2010 included a new museum that more than doubled exhibit space telling the story of the Pearl Harbor attack. This chapter follows the process of discussion and debate as decisions are made about what would go into the new displays. The moment of creating a new museum complex opened up a conversation about history, memory, and memorialization in which implicit ideas about history itself went on display. The chapter analyzes the process of museum-making (including layout of buildings, design of exhibits, and landscape plans), tracing a process that shifted from one moment to the next as the historical context for the memorial itself was evolving. Noting that museum planners consistently referenced Pearl Harbor survivors and Second World War veterans as they imagined the museum’s purpose, the chapter asks what museum making has to say about historical formations of national subjectivity.