Between the Freedom Center and the Abu Ghraib Prison
Ground Zero (4)

Communication présentée lors de The “9/11” Decade: Rethinking Reality, colloque organisé par Nicola Clewer, 6th Annual International Interdisciplinary Conference, CAPPE Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics, University of Brighton, Royaume-Uni, 2011.

It is no exaggeration to claim that the politics of the last decade have their origin in one event: the hijacking and flying of passenger aircraft into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Since then wars, putatively justified as responses to this attack, have raged in Iraq and in Afghanistan. These wars have resulted in the growth of violent opposition to a perceived US imperial polity; have been used to justify the rewriting of long established legal frameworks protecting the people’s rights have led to neurosis about the protection of borders which the age of global capital was supposed to bring to an end; and have seen the crippling of active leftist opposition to the opportunistic furtherance of the neo-liberal revolution.

This interdisciplinary conference seeks critically to rethink this last decade and to put into question the nostrums it would have us take for granted.

Organising Committee
Presentation, The “9/11” Decade: Rethinking Reality
Conference program and paper abstracts

Ground ZERO: an ongoing critical study

This intervention is part of an ongoing critical study that analyzes the reconstruction process on the World Trade Center’s site considered, in this context, to be an important expression of the United-States’ cultural response to the events of September 11 2001. Undertaken as a series of articles linking the architectural design competitions, the planning and actual reconstruction, the cleansing of the site and its economy of waste, remains and other ruins, this analysis also focuses on collections of artifacts associated with the events created by various museums, as well as on a body of artistic exhibitions.

Ground Zero (4): between the Freedom Center and the Abu Ghraib Prison proposes an exemplary case study based on the exclusion of the International Freedom Center (IFC) from the planned reconstruction on the World Trade Center’s site. The IFC was the main component of the World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complexe featured in Daniel Libeskind’s initial master plan. Following families’ protests lead by Debra Burlingame, sister of a 9/11 victim (D. Burlingame, Wall Street Journal: 2005), “mourning and memory” have claimed “from art and culture” a distinctive and secured space in which to (re)produce the saving memory (and narrative) of a contemporary culture exposed to danger.

This paper suggests that architecture on the WTC Site and a growing network of public collections, exhibitions, museums and memorials are also enclosing devices and domestic military strategies that contribute to recreating boundaries, whether the familiar domestic space or a “secured” national and symbolic periphery; the space of “safe” living. This “cultural security fence” is considered in relation with other post-9/11 control mechanisms, offensive strategy and security measures, such as the Homeland Security Department and the USA Patriot Act.

Ground Zero (4): between the Freedom Center and the Abu Ghraib Prison aims to explore the pervasive yet diffuse role of culture and especially of “big culture” in the convergence of powers that Naomi Klein identifies as corporatism in the rising disaster capitalism: “big business and big government combining their formidable powers to regulate and control the citizenry.” (N. Klein, The Shock Doctrine: 2007).

Louise Lachapelle
Extracts from « Ground Zero (4): between the Freedom Center and the Abu Ghraib Prison »
The “9/11” Decade: Rethinking Reality