Power and the Past: Collective Memory and International Relations

Author
Eric Langenbacher (ed), Yossi Shain (ed)
Content Type
Book
Institution
Georgetown University Press
Abstract
Collective memories have long influenced domestic politics and especially international affairs—a fact most recently exemplified by the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. The events and the memories resulting from them became powerful motivating forces for Americans almost overnight. At home, an infrastructure of commemoration quickly arose—in films like United 93 ( 2006 ); memorials including one unveiled at the Pentagon in September 2008 and the Tribute World Trade Center Visitor Center opened in 2006; and even in political campaign discourse, as at the 2008 Republican National Convention. 1 Yet, as with other collective memories worldwide, there is no consensus as to the overall meaning and lessons of September 11 over time. Instead, the continued vehemence of discussions about 9 / 11 reveals still-unresolved struggles over the construction, content, and power of the memory. What degree of prominence should this memory have in American political culture? What historical narratives are offered as explanations? Most importantly, what values and policy implications—both domestically and abroad—ought to follow?
Topic
International Relations, Human Rights, Politics, Political Theory, History
Political Geography
Europe