Project: Memory Laws in European and Comparative Perspectives

Memory laws enshrine state-approved interpretations of dramatic historical events. The investigators will examine the content, contexts, and policy implications of European memory laws. Such laws have spread throughout the continent in recent decades. They have become tools for states to prescribe 'required' or 'correct' interpretations of historical events. They raise problems of free expression, freedom of academic enquiry, nationalist propaganda, and political extremism. Scholars have still failed to provide either an adequate theoretical model or specific policy recommendations suited to a pan-European context. We will develop criteria for critical evaluating these uses of the past, culminating in a model Framework Declaration on Memory Laws. For purposes of comparison, we shall also examine some selected policies beyond Europe. We shall study social perceptions of collective memory in view of ongoing problems of nationalism, government censorship of historical research, and suppression of minorities. We shall analyze how memory laws presuppose unacknowledged boundaries of the permissible within historical discourse. Our Framework Declaration will include standards of best practice to balance conflicting policy interests. The project will provide governments, NGOs, European as well as independent policymakers, and the mass media, educators, historians, museum curators, and cultural institutions a starting point for demanding improvements in the presentation of history.

Acronym MELA (Reference Number: HERA.15.094)
Duration 01/06/2016 - 01/06/2019
Project Topic REFLECTIVE-1-2014
Call HERA Call “Uses of the Past”

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Queen Mary University of London Coordinator United Kingdom
2 Department of Transnational Legal Studies, Faculty of Law Partner Netherlands
3 Università di Trento Partner Italy
4 Polish Academy of Sciences Partner Poland