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Law and Memory
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Book description

Legal governance of memory has played a central role in establishing hegemony of monumental history, and has forged national identities and integration processes in Europe and beyond. In this book, a range of contributors explore both the nature and role of legal engagement into historical memory in selected national law, European and international law. They also reflect on potential conflicts between legal governance, political pluralism, and fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression. In recent years, there have been numerous monumental commemoration practices and judicial trials about correlated events all over the world, and this is a prime opportunity to undertake an important global comparative scrutiny of memory laws. Against the background of mass re-writing of history in different parts of the world, this book revisits a fascinating subject of memory laws from the standpoint of comparative law and transitional justice.


‘The law commonly drifts between an obligation to forget and a duty to remember, vigorously endorsed and imposed through the policing of legal truths. The editors of this book offer a spectacular walk down memory lane and a unique must-have to anyone interested in how law shapes historical imagination, populated with selected victims and imposed heroes of the past.'

Dimitry Kochenov - Chair in EU Constitutional Law at the University of Groningen, Faculty of Law

'There is no shortage of academic works on ‘collective memory’ and on legal instruments to deal with the past. Strangely enough, there has been precious little serious academic literature combining these two themes. The editors of this ambitious, path-breaking volume have done precisely that. By lining up an impressive group of scholars from a large number of countries, they succeeded in painting a rich, interdisciplinary landscape of laws shaping collective memory, and of collective memory shaping the law, in Europe and elsewhere. By producing such a formidable volume they have opened a new stream in the academic thinking about the intersections between law and social memory, and from now on, no scholar tackling these issues will be able to afford to ignore this book.'

Wojciech Sadurski, - Challis Professor of Jurisprudence, The University of Sydney and Professor at the Centre for Europe, The University of Warsaw

'The greatest virtue of this book is that while providing a comparative perspective on various memory laws, it does not attempt to generalize them but rather acknowledges that they remain deeply embedded within national contexts. The collection of the case studies proves that a state’s attitude towards public discussion of history reflects its attitude towards the rights of its citizens, and it also shapes the public understandings of the past.'

Gábor Halmai - Professor and Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law, European University Institute, Florence

'Law and Memory: Towards Legal Governance of History is … a timely contribution that expands the field of conventional memory studies by investigating legal norms that are to shape memories. Highly topical, the volume also speaks to political developments presently unfolding.'

Félix Krawatzek - Journal of Law and Society

'… this book provides thorough analyses of a topic relevant for both Law and Memory Studies. Rich in case studies, the essays give the reader a deeper understanding of aspects most vital to the discussion of memory laws. The book … provides important emphasis and an overdue acknowledgment of the relevance of disciplinary cooperation engendering conversation between the two fields of Law and Memory.'

Katrin Antweiler Source: Review Journal for the Study of Culture

'[T]he dangers of the mediation of history through political idolatry or reactionary memory laws … render the edited volume on Law and Memory: Towards Legal Governance of History essential. … [M]emory laws seem antithetical to the liberal spirit of allowing people the freedom to come to terms with the past, but they also provide an opportunity for the State to effectively sort people into good and bad citizens, based on how much they have internalized a State-sponsored collective discourse.'

Suryapratim Roy Source: The Journal of Comparative Law

'As [this] excellent … edited collection demonstrates, law can be used as a tool both to guard memory and to distort official history and attack seekers of truth.'

Tom Gerald Daly Source: International Journal of Constitutional Law

'Let me state upfront that this is a fascinating volume coedited by two of the leading figures in the emergent field of the study of memory laws … Social scientists and legal scholars, in particular, will find much to fruitfully occupy them in its pages, regardless of whether their interest in the topic is normative and theoretical or empirical and case-driven.'

George Soroka Source: Nationalities Papers

'There is no space to comment on each one of the articles of this excellent collection. Suffice is to say that they deal with a broad array of cases from Europe, Israel and Palestine, Canada and Perú … The cases selected present us with a view of the way memory is governed by the law and the challenges it presents for us.'

Farid Samir Benavides-Vanegas Source: International Journal for the Semiotics of Law

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