Archaeology of memory clearly makes sense – as does historical archaeology. There are events hidden or repressed, traumatic or simply disconcerting that cannot be allowed to reach the surface except very briefly. Think of the Danish King, visiting his Icelandic subjects as King of Iceland. He brings presents – a photographed edition of one of the most important manuscripts, leather-bound, one copy for every member of parliament. He thereby shows generosity and willingness to celebrate Icelandic culture, rather than ignore it. His presents are received, formal protocols of courtesy are observed, but then no one mentions it, and it is quickly forgotten. Why? Because of an uncomfortable contrast to the image of Danish authority cultivated by the Icelanders. The Danes are no oppressors, quite the opposite. But how can one both acknowledge this and continue with the independence argument? It complicates things. Besides, the King is a controversial figure at the time, reputed to loath the liberal developments around him. So it is repressed. There is no conspiracy about it – there is no need for a conspiracy. Everybody understands.
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