Collective memory as a resource for political change
in Memory and the future of Europe
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This chapter links individual remembrance to the paradigm of collective memory and shows how history played into postwar European politics. Since the end of the Second World War, the remembered past has increasingly been recognised as an important source of stability allowing individuals and communities to integrate new experiences into existing understandings of the past. Although these narrative frameworks help maintain individual and group identities, the chapter develops a critical theory of memory as a resource for rethinking the foundations of political life in the aftermath of historical ruptures. Building on the work of the Frankfurt School, it argues that the experience of total war between 1914 and 1945 created a rupture in European understandings of its past. Despite its many traumatic consequences, this caesura gave political leaders the freedom to rethink the foundations of political order and provided them with the cognitive, motivational, and justificatory resources to reimagine the future.

Memory and the future of Europe

Rupture and integration in the wake of total war

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