Difficult Past, Difficult Present?: How Collective Memory and Personal Experience Shape Beliefs on Politico-Cultural Identity in Post-Conflict Societies Today

Leigh, J., 2013, p. 41-41. 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic

In essence, we are all products of our experience; thus the positions we adopt today are influenced by what we remember (and forget) about our past. This is true at both individual and collective levels. In societies traumatised by conflict, the act of recalling and dealing with the past is particularly controversial: What should be remembered, and whose memories may be recalled? Can one deviate from the mainstream of accepted remembrance? In most societies it is possible to identify what has been referred to as a ‘master narrative’ of identity, which determines both the accepted history of that society as well as values concerning what it means to be a (‘good’) member of that community today. It is indeed useful to perceive identity through such a narrative framework, as a story which we construct about who we are and what we have done. This paper firstly takes
the position that individual narratives are often shaped by the master narrative, which sets the tone for what is acceptable within the collective, not only in historical terms, but also in terms of beliefs on politics, nationality and/or ethnicity. Yet there exists in most societies a proportion of people whose positions diverge from the master narrative. This paper, which is intended
to establish the theoretical position of my larger research project, will consider how such deviations amongst individuals in society could be explained by the various processes through which memory (both individual and collective) is formed and later recalled, processes which in turn impact on the way the individual perceives and relates to the master narrative and constructs
the predominant features of their own identity. Particular attention will be given to how such processes function in post-traumatic settings, and the implications of difficult memories for narratives of present and future in such societies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventFirst Annual CCCS Conference: Cultural Memory - Centre for Culture and Cultural Studies, Skopje, Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of
Duration: 5-Sep-20137-Sep-2013


ConferenceFirst Annual CCCS Conference: Cultural Memory
CountryMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of


First Annual CCCS Conference: Cultural Memory


Skopje, Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of

Event: Conference


  • REMEMBERING, forgetting, post-conflict, Narrative, Post-trauma, nationalism, ethnicity
Related Activities
  1. First Annual CCCS Conference: Cultural Memory

    James Leigh (Speaker)

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conferenceAcademic

View all (1) »

ID: 17420666