Nationalism, Democracy, and Memory Laws

Issue Date April 2019
Volume 30
Issue 2
Page Numbers 157-171
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Controversies over historical interpretation have become a key focus of contemporary politics. Recently, these issues have taken on particular prominence in Europe, where a burgeoning array of “memory laws” has sparked heated debates. While laws prohibiting Holocaust denial are their progenitors, most of the newer laws are intended to shape, rather than simply to reflect, social norms about how the past should be understood and discussed. They also reflect concerns about maintaining national unity and cultural coherence in the face of European integration. As such, these laws constitute both a response to the postnational order and a threat to liberalism.