Memory and Power in Post-War Europe: Studies in the Presence by Jan-Werner Müller

By Jan-Werner Müller

How has memory--collective and individual--influenced ecu politics within the aftermath of the second one global conflict and the chilly struggle? How has the prior been utilized in family struggles for energy, and the way have 'historical classes' been utilized in international coverage? This publication is the 1st to envision the relationship among reminiscence and politics without delay. The chapters mix theoretical innovation with ancient, empirically-grounded case experiences of significant ecu international locations. This ground-breaking booklet could be of curiosity to historians of up to date Europe, political scientists and sociologists.

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87 Instead, historical projects should turn out to be correctives of memory, with historians in the full knowledge that their histories can and will be contested. 88 History, in other words, can at least sometimes awaken us from the nightmare of memory. In a similar vein, Henry Rousso has insisted that ‘the duty of memory is an empty shell unless it is based on scholarship’. He has added that memory is a living phenomenon, something in perpetual evolution, whereas history – as understood by historians – is a scholarly and theoretical reconstruction and as such is more apt to give rise to a substantial, durable body of knowledge.

96 The point then is not ontologically and epistemologically to ‘destabilise’ the relationship between memory and history further, as postmodernists would have us do, but to examine carefully the role of memory in past and present politics. Memory and power: the uses of the past in domestic and international politics A further distinction needs to be drawn between history, memory and power. One way of understanding the relationship between memory and power is to conceptualise memory itself as a kind of ‘symbolic power’, which can be marshalled in much the same way as material power and, to use Pierre Bourdieu’s terms, economic and cultural capital are marshalled.

As Joshua Foa Dienstag has pointed out, the key connection is that between the legitimacy of existing institutions, their historical roles and the question of representation. Memory takes on a certain importance when claims of legitimacy rest on claims of representativeness. 99 This does not imply that all ‘mnemonic legitimation’ is automatically traditional legitimacy in a Weberian sense. Legitimacy could also be based on a sharp break with the past due to traumatic experiences and disastrous policy failures, from which the appropriate lessons have been drawn.

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