The Contemporary Histories Research Group is pleased to launch our new series: Provocations, a monthly recording between members of the group and beyond. Our first instalment is now available; a recording between Professor David Lowe and Dr Filip Slaveski:
“Too Much Memory”: Can Societies Forget Past Traumas to Rebuild?
Prof. David Lowe and Dr. Filip Slaveski of the Contemporary Histories Research Group reflect on the difficulties that societies face in making sense of their past traumas of war and dislocation as Europe faces a war in the East and a refugee crisis in the south. Tensions among Asian powers are growing in this direction. Remembering trauma has been key to building national identity across both continents after WWII, yet as this discussion reveals, ‘mismemory’ has been as, if not more important in this process. Both have been key also in reigniting tensions within and beyond societies in the wake of the Cold War, particularly as political leaders more and more awaken the ghosts of the past to further their own agendas. The crisis in Ukraine, the dissolution of Europe’s southern borders and posturing in the South China Sea both have roots in mismemory and provide fertile ground for mismemory to flourish. Given the crises, the discussants asks if ‘forgetting’ the past may be the most hopeful way of healing and moving forward.