Hot Spots and Symbols

When I go to a conflicted area I need to know what’s going on, not only by reading newspapers or talking to leaders or taxi drivers, or children, you need to know what else in this society because there are societal processes that are shared and are specific for that large group. My team and I found something we named ‘hot spots.’ They are locations which became ‘symbols’ of the conflict, such as the school yard where the Crying Father monument stands or locations where mass killings took place…A ‘hot spot’ is where the aggression and victimization get symbolized, where all the historical images of the past condensed into the present situation.

-Vamik Volkan


Introduction by Sydney Allard

In Vamik Volkan’s writings, he refers to Hot Spots as places where exclusively negative events have taken place which bear a certain significance for a group. However we have chosen to include anecdotes and essays about any locations that evoke strong feelings from a group or person in this chapter. According to Volkan, listening to someone speak about Hot Spots can give you insight into his or her feelings about the events that took place there.



Our Place

Oulimata vividly describes the attic that she and her friends decorated for themselves to shelter each other from the outside world.


In this essay, Maria Milekhina writes about her experience visiting Lychakiv Cemetery, a Hot Spot that has had significance for Ukrainians for many generations. In keeping with Volkan’s theories, Mikehina’s description of the memorial conveys some of her feelings about her country’s history.

The Kotel

Eliza Paradise writes about an “Intergenerational Hot Spot”– the Kotel in Israel and the palpable significance that it still holds for Jewish people.

Poem to the Belfast Peace Walls

John Michael McCann writes about the Belfast Peace Walls and the significance they hold for him and for his father.