Edited volume

Joanna Marszałek-Kawa, Joanna Piechowiak-Lamparska, Anna Ratke-Majewska, Patryk Wawrzyński (eds.) (2017)

The Politics of Memory in Post-Authoritarian Transitions, vol. I: Case Studies, and vol. II: Comparative Analysis

Publishing house Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Place of publication Newcastle upon Tyne
Page references 299 (vol. I), 220 (vol. II)
Language English

ISBN: 978-1-4438-1706-6

History is a powerful tool in the hands of politicians, and can be a destructive weapon since power over the past is the power to decide who is a hero and who is a traitor. Tradition, the memory of ancestors, and the experience of previous generations are the keys that unlock the door to citizens' minds, and allow certain ideas, visions and political programs to flourish. However, can history be a proper political weapon during democratisation processes when the past is clearly separated from the present? Are the new order and society founded on the basis of some interpretation of the past, or, rather, are they founded only with reference to the imagined future of the nation?

This book explores such questions through a detailed description of the use of remembrance policies during political transformations. It discusses how interpretations of the past served the accomplishment of transitional objectives in countries as varied as Chile, Estonia, Georgia, Poland, South Africa and Spain. The book is a unique journey through different parts of the world, different cultures and different political systems, investigating how history was remembered and forgotten by certain democratic leaders. Individual chapters discuss how governments' remembrance policies were used to create a new citizen, to change a political culture, and to justify the vision of the society promoted by the new elites. They explain why some difficult topics were avoided by politicians, and why sometimes there was no transitional justice or punishment of the leaders of the authoritarian state. The book will be of interest to anyone wishing to explore policies of remembrance, democratisation, and the role of memory in contemporary societies.


(From the publisher's website.)

  • The Politics of Memory in Post-Authoritarian Transitions, vol. I: Case Studies, and vol. II: Comparative Analysis

    Reviewed by PD Dr. Rafał Riedel