The Politics of Collective Memory: A Link to the Past
Memories are more than thoughts about the past: they also shape the world of today. The way people remember bygone times influences how they regard themselves and others, and even how they act towards them. At the same time, authorities might try to define how people remember the past – in order to make citizens more obedient, for instance. In this symposium, we will shed light on two different scenarios: memories of a colonial and a totalitarian past.
Decades after decolonisation took place, colonial history still arouses heavy emotions. Of course, these are strongly coloured by people’s memories of the past. So how exactly do the colonised and the colonisers remember colonial times nowadays, and how does it influence their current behaviour? Henk Schulte Nordholt is a Special Professor of Indonesian History at Leiden University and Head of Research at KITLV (the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies). He will discuss the role of memory in the shared colonial and post-colonial history of Indonesia and the Netherlands.
On 6 February, the Polish president Andrzej Duda signed a law that imposes up to three years of imprisonment on anyone who holds Poland responsible for crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War II. But what is the point of such laws? Do they seek to protect a historical truth, or rather to limit the freedom of speech? Uladzislau Belavusau is a Senior Researcher in European Law at the T.M.C. Asser Institute at the University of Amsterdam and principal investigator in the MELA research consortium (Memory Laws in European and Comparative Perspective). He will speak about memory laws and the current ‘memory war’ in Poland in particular.
This event is free and open to everyone.