The dreams of the future move in the temporal dimension of past life, fed by memory … out of which all wishes and hopes are deduced.
Reinhart Koselleck, Terror and Dream (2004)
Critical theory and collectivememory 1
Over the course of the second half of the twentieth century, collectivememory has become a central concept in the humanities and the social sciences. 2 Its surge in scholarly importance coincides with a number of broader social movements, most notably the student revolts of 1968, when the first generation that came of age in the
National history and collectivememory
The nationalisation of culture
In 1815, following the second, definitive defeat of Napoleon, the most
urgent requirement was the rebuilding of the political fabric of Europe,
which had been torn asunder by the revolutionary and Bonapartist
whirlwinds that had swept through it. In the fond belief that the turmoil
of the previous twenty-five years had been no more than a passing
madness, Tsar Alexander I and the Austrian Chancellor Metternich
presided over a coalition of absolute monarchs that aimed to restore the
Sacralisation and militarisation in the remembrance of the ‘cursed soldiers’
Marije Hristova and Monika Żychlińska
Between 2012 and 2017, at the Ł-section of Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery, or ‘Łączka’, the Polish Institute of National Remembrance exhumed a mass grave containing the remains of post-war anti-communist resistance fighters. Being referred to as the ‘cursed soldiers’, these fighters have become key figures in post-2015 Polish memory politics. In this article we focus on the role of the volunteers at these exhumations in the production of the ‘cursed soldiers’ memory. Following the idea of community archaeology as a civil society-building practice, the observed processes of sacralisation and militarisation show how the exhumations create a community of memory that promotes the core values of the currently governing national-conservative PiS party. We found that tropes related to forensic research and typically identified with cosmopolitan memory paradigms are used within a generally nationalist and antagonistic memory framework.
A Thematic Analysis of Collective Trauma and Enemy Image Construction in the 1980s American Action Film
During the 1980s the spectre of the Vietnam War haunted the sites of cinema and popular culture in various forms. Whereas a rich body of scholarly research exists on cinematic iterations of the Vietnam war as trauma, the discursive dynamics between memory, ideology and genre in relation to enemy image construction are somewhat underdeveloped. This article utilises genre studies, conflict studies and trauma theory in analysing how the representations of film villains interact with the construction of cultural trauma and national identity. Considering the American action thriller to be an important site for processes of commemoration and memorialisation, the discursive construction and formal articulation of national trauma are theorised within the genre. Additionally, a thematic and textual analysis was conducted of a sample of forty American action thriller films. The analysis illustrates how the genre operates through a structure of violent traumatisation and heroic vindication, offering a logic built on the necessity and legitimacy of revenge against a series of enemy-others.
This article considers how the reburial and commemoration of the human remains of the
Republican defeated during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) is affected by the social,
scientific and political context in which the exhumations occur. Focusing on a particular
case in the southwestern region of Extremadura, it considers how civil society groups
administer reburial acts when a positive identification through DNA typing cannot be
attained. In so doing, the article examines how disparate desires and memories come
together in collective reburial of partially individuated human remains.
The development of the European Union as a community-based project of integration with decision-making powers outside the constitutional architecture of the nation-state is the most significant innovation in twentieth-century political organisation. It raises fundamental questions about our understanding of the state, sovereignty, citizenship, democracy, and the relationship between political power and economic forces. Despite its achievements, events at the start of the twenty-first century – including the political, economic, and financial crisis of the Eurozone, as well as Brexit and the rise of populism – pose an existential threat to the EU. Memory and the future of Europe addresses the crisis of the EU by treating integration as a response to the rupture created by the continent’s experience of total war. It traces Europe’s existing pathologies to the project’s loss of its moral foundations rooted in collective memories of total war. As the generations with personal memories of the two world wars pass away, economic gain has become the EU’s sole raison d’être. If it is to survive its future challenges, the EU will have to create a new historical imaginary that relies not only on the lessons of the past, but also builds on Europe’s ability to protect its citizens by serving as a counterweight against the forces of globalisation. By framing its argument through the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, Memory and the future of Europe will attract readers interested in political and social philosophy, collective memory studies, European studies, international relations, and contemporary politics.
I reflect on the place of If Beale Street Could Talk in the
corpus of Baldwin’s writings, and its relationship to Barry
Jenkins’s movie released at the beginning of 2019. I consider also what
the arrival of the movie can tell us about how Baldwin is located in
contemporary collective memories.
Mercenaries are fighters who operate under special conditions. Their presence, as
shadow combatants, often tends to exacerbate the violence of their enemies.
That’s why the analysis focuses on the singularity of the relationship to
death and ‘procedures’ concerning the corpses of their fallen
comrades. As a fighter identified and engaged in landlocked areas, the
mercenary’s corpse is treated according to material constraints
pertaining in the 1960s. After violence on their body, and evolution towards the
secret war, mercenaries favour the repatriation of the body or its
disappearance. These new, painful conditions for comrades and families give
birth to a collective memory fostered by commemorations.
This article seeks to show that the bodies of Jewish people who died in the Drancy internment camp between 1941 and 1944 were handled on French soil in a doubly normalised manner: first by the police and judicial system, and then in relation to funeral arrangements. My findings thus contradict two preconceived ideas that have become firmly established in collective memory: first, the belief that the number who died in the Drancy camp is difficult to establish; and second, the belief that the remains of internees who died in the camp were subjected to rapid and anonymous burial in a large mass grave in Drancy municipal cemetery.
The 1948 war that led to the creation of the State of Israel also resulted in the destruction of Palestinian society, when some 80 per cent of the Palestinians who lived in the major part of Palestine upon which Israel was established became refugees. Israelis call the 1948 war their ‘War of Independence’ and the Palestinians their ‘Nakba’, or catastrophe. After many years of Nakba denial, land appropriation, political discrimination against the Palestinians within Israel and the denial of rights to Palestinian refugees, in recent years the Nakba is beginning to penetrate Israeli public discourse. This book explores the construction of collective memory in Israeli society, where the memory of the trauma of the Holocaust and of Israel's war dead competes with the memory claims of the dispossessed Palestinians. Taking an auto-ethnographic approach, it makes a contribution to social memory studies through a critical evaluation of the co-memoration of the Palestinian Nakba by Israeli Jews. Against a background of the Israeli resistance movement, the book's central argument is that co-memorating the Nakba by Israeli Jews is motivated by an unresolved melancholia about the disappearance of Palestine and the dispossession of the Palestinians, a melancholia which shifts mourning from the lost object to the grieving subject. The book theorises Nakba co-memory as a politics of resistance, counterpoising co-memorative practices by internally displaced Israeli Palestinians with Israeli Jewish discourses of the Palestinian right of return, and questions whether return narratives by Israeli Jews are ultimately about Israeli Jewish self-healing.