What Role for Memory in Human Rights Protection? A Book Review of 'Injustice, Memory and Faith in Human Rights'
Review Essay, Journal of Comparative Law (2018)
17 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2018
Date Written: June 30, 2018
What is and should be the role of Memory in the protection of human rights? This essay reviews contributions to the volume Injustice Memory and Faith in Human Rights (2017). The contribution to this volume are responding to the question from various perspectives. By focusing on societies that have experienced transition from conflict, they discuss how Memory has been used and abused, to serve various purposes such as national consciousness building, legitimacy building and manipulating understanding of historical events. The reference to memory can be skillfuly used for various purposes. A proper handling of memory can serve to restore the lost sense of solidarity or to perpetuate the breakage of the social bond. Government legitimacy can be the result of “strategically managed memory through craftily selected and contextualised facts”. The very imaginary of power, the possibility to create political mythology, is based on the skilful handling of memories. The imaginary is a frame of interpretation which supports our personal and social self-conception . Our sense of being a member of a community is defined in reference to a constructive representation of history. Enigmatic elements that relate to irrational aspect of human existence are a very important element of individual and collective consciousness. The handling of memories is part of those enigmatic elements that constitute our individual and collective self-understanding. In this respect how memory is used in the discourse of political actors and in the very discourse of human rights can be constitutive of a process of discovering the normative standards that are constituting a sense of self and hold a community together.
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