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Between Reconciliation and the Reactivation of Past Conflicts in Europe: Rethinking Social Memory Paradigms

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Mink, Georges

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Abstract Europe is grounded, from all sides, in traces of old inter-state and ethnic conflicts. Experience has proved that they can still be re-activated in spite of various forms of resolution in the past. History is welcome in the present, and we can observe mobilisation among agents, populations of victims, or despoiled groups, which have been forgotten or forced into silence through post-conflictual issues. Various interest groups, political parties, or states, build up memorial resources that they incorporate in their actions list of historicist strategies, with the aim of 'recycling' the representations of the symbolic pasts into contemporary political games. These mobilisations meet the reconciliation trends coming from society (for example, informal groups, NGOs, and so on), or are taken in charge by national and international institutions - which are becoming more and more routine - especially under the influence of the circulation of 'good' models of the pacification of resentments, containing a highly normative tone. The question is to know whether, in spite of the apparent heterogeneity of this phenomenon, the historicist games do constitute a common indicator of the state of political regimes, especially democracies, and also of the strength of that supranational construction called the EU. This question necessitates the revisiting of the dominant concepts in the field of the political sociology of memory. The international circulation of reconciliation grammars, and the fact that memory issues are being torn out of their national frameworks and exploited in several arenas, both internal and external, in order to increase their yield of political resources, are further evidence that the paradigms heretofore dominant in the social sciences are now at an impasse.
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Free Keywords Memory; Conflict; Eastern Europe; History; Conflict Resolution; Postcommunist Societies
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 469-490
Journal Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review, 2008 (2008) 3
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications