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Margaret Comer

Margaret Comer

Postdoctoral Member, Cambridge Heritage Research Centre

Department of Archaeology
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3DZ

Biography:

I completed my PhD in Archaeology (Heritage Studies) at the University of Cambridge in 2019, funded by the Gates Cambridge Trust. I also received my MPhil in Archaeology (Archaeological Heritage and Museums) from the University of Cambridge (2014) and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a BA in Anthropology (2012).

 

Current and Previous Research Projects:

I am a Research Assistant on the project 'Sites at Risk: Guidelines for Best Practice', funded by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and chaired by Dr Gilly Carr. In an environment of increasing Holocaust distortion and denial throughout Europe, the preservation of physical sites of Holocaust violence is crucial to both preserving the memory of Holocaust victims and communicating the perils of xenophobic and bigoted political movements. However, many of these sites are at risk of damage or destruction from many sources, including climate change, neglect, unchecked development, and politically-motivated violence. The 'Sites at Risk' project aims to identify these types of risk as they relate to Holocaust sites and then draft 'best practices' guidelines to protect these sites.

My doctoral dissertation title was 'The Heritage of Repression: Memory, Commemoration, and Politics in Post-Soviet Russia'. It focused on changing patterns of commemoration and memorialization of Soviet repression at sites in Russia connected to the former gulag system and Great Terror, with a special focus on concepts of 'grievability' (as conceived by Judith Butler) and my complementary concept of 'blameability'. It also introduced a theoretical model for categorizing and thinking through heritage sites' representations of victims and perpetrators.

 

 

Research Interests

  • Heritage of repression and terror
  • Soviet and post-Soviet memorialization
  • Grievability in memorialization and remembrance
  • Contested memory
  • Necropolitics and group identity

 

Key Publications

González, P.A., Comer, M., Viejo Rose, D., and Crowley, T. (ed.) 2019. Themed Section: Heritage, Revolution and the Enduring Politics of the Past. International Journal of Heritage Studies 25(5): 469-535.

González, P.A., Comer, M., Viejo Rose, D., and Crowley, T. 2018. 'Introduction: heritage and revolution – first as tragedy, then as farce?', International Journal of Heritage Studies 25(5), DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2018.1509231.

Comer, M. 2017. 'Uncovering violent narratives: the heritage of Stalinist repression in Russia since 1991' in M. Frihammar and H. Silverman (ed.), Heritage of Death: Landscapes of Emotion, Memory and Practice. London: Routledge, pp. 164-177.

Meharry, J.E., Haboucha, R., and Comer, M. (ed.) 2017. On the Edge of the Anthropocene? Modern Climate Change and the Practice of Archaeology. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 32(2).

Comer, M. 2017. Review of Material Culture in the USSR: Things, Values, Identities, edited by Graham H. Roberts. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 32(2): 238-242.

Comer, M. 2017. 'Harald Bluetooth's Welfare State: The Archaeology of Danish Royalty and Democracy' in A. Brooks and N. Mehler (ed.), The Country Where My Heart Is: Historical Archaeologies of Nationalism and National Identity. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, pp. 202-221.

Bartolini, F., Comer, M., Meharry, J. E., Zoh, M. 2016. 'The Heritage of Displacement: Forced Migration in the Mediterranean through History.' Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 4(4): 377-81, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/637052/pdf