Last modified: 15 Jan 2021 12:50
This course examines the ways in which societal understandings of the past shape political outcomes in the present. Introducing students to the concept of ‘Collective Memory’, the course engages with key theoretical and empirical debates in this emerging field of Politics and IR. It asks such questions as: How can narratives of the past reproduce or challenge contemporary power relations? To what extent do political actors and institutions engineer particular historical narratives that serve their current interests? To what extent are societal ideas of the past malleable? What is the relationship between ‘remembering’, ‘forgetting’ and political power?
|Session||Second Sub Session||Credit Points||30 credits (15 ECTS credits)|
This course examines both theoretical and empirical debates regarding the ways in which the past is mobilised in pursuit of political objectives in the present. The course initiates by studying the theoretical underpinnings of Maurice Halbwachs' concept of 'Collective Memory' - the idea that social groups share common understandings of the past which influence decision making and social structures in the present. In studying theoretical debates concerning memory, the course examines key thinkers that have built on Halbwachs' theory as well as those that reject the very notion of his concept. The early weeks of the course further look at theoretical debates concerning the differences and overlaps between 'history' and 'memory' and debates concerning the relative power of dominant and marginalised groups in memory formation. The course then applies such theoretical debates to key empirical cases where the politics of the past are contested and struggled over. Such cases include various states' official commemorations of the Holocaust; the role of historical analogy in justifying warfare and the social and political functions of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in post-conflict societies. The later weeks of the course analyse the significance of commemoration rituals in British politics and the increasingly common phenomenon of 'atrocity tourism'. The course concludes by investigating the role of Empire in memory politics. It does so by focusing on the conflicting politics of memory regarding ‘The Troubles’ and ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Northern Ireland, and the increasing imperative of former colonial powers to offer apologies for aspects of their past Empire. At each stage of the course, the political and ideological consequences of competing historical narratives are considered.
Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.
3000 word essay - 50%
Take home exam - 50%
Resit (for students who took the course in Academic Year 2020/21):
Take home exam 100%
There are no assessments for this course.
|Knowledge Level||Thinking Skill||Outcome|
|Factual||Understand||A knowledge of and ability to analyse the nuances and political implications of key empirical cases where perceptions of the past are highly contested.|
|Conceptual||Analyse||An ability to analyse the ways in which politicians and states employ the past in pursuit of particular objectives.|
|Factual||Analyse||An ability to analyse the ways in which certain groups challenge and disrupt ‘official’ narratives of the past.|
|Conceptual||Understand||A knowledge of the key debates and issues related to the concept of ‘Collective Memory’.|