"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, March 23, 2018

Georgian and South-European Nostalgia and the Politics of Memory

This fascinating article, about varying memories, many nostalgic and romanticized, of Joseph Stalin in his native Georgia, confirms what I have been hearing from scholars at conferences for several years now based on various research trips to several parts of the former Soviet Union.

Two forthcoming books, both published by Palgrave Macmillan, take us further into the fascinating field of political memory and nostalgia in that part of the world:

Catherine Raudvere, Nostalgia, Loss and Creativity in South-East Europe: Political and Cultural Representations of the Past  (PM, 2018), 238pp.

About this book we are told:
Where nostalgia was once dismissed a wistful dream of a never-never land, the academic focus has shifted to how pieces of the past are assembled as the elements in alternative political thinking as well as in artistic expression. The creative use of the past points to the complexities of the conceptualization of nostalgia, while entering areas where the humanities meet the art world and commerce. This collection of essays shows how this bond is politically and socially visible on different levels, from states to local communities, along with creative developments in art, literature and religious practice. Bringing together scholars from a range of disciplines, the book offers analyses from diverse theoretical perspectives, united by an interest in the political and cultural representations of the past in South-East Europe from a long-term perspective. By emphasising how the relationship between loss and creative inspiration are intertwined in cultural production and history writing, these essays cover themes across South-East Europe and provide an insight into how specific agents – intellectuals, politicians, artists – have represented the past and have looked towards the future.
The second is a more general and methodological study: Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict: Historical Memory as a Variable by Zheng Wang (PM, 2018).

About this book we are told:
This book focuses on the methodology of research on historical memory and contributes to theoretical discussions concerning the use of historical memory as a variable to explain political action and social movement. The chapters of the book conceptualize the relationship between historical memory and national identity formation, perceptions, and policy-making. The author particularly analyses how contested memory and the related social discourse can lead to nationalism and international conflict. Based on theories and research from multiple fields of studies, this book proposes a series of analytic frameworks for the purpose of conceptualizing the functions of historical memory. These analytic frameworks can help categorize, measure, and subsequently demonstrate the effects of historical memory. This book also discusses how to use public opinion polls, textbooks, important texts and documents, monuments and memory sites for conducting research to examine the functions of historical memory.

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