The Paradox of Regret: Remembering and Forgetting the History of Slavery in George W. Bush’s Gorée Island Address by Bradford Vivian
Ceremonial statements of regret from state actors may appear to lack discernible gains compared to historic procedures of reconciliation or political reunification; yet the ceremonial language of these statements influences public perceptions of historical justice, moral wisdom and democratic virtue. This essay analyzes President George W. Bush’s historic address on the transatlantic slave trade as an excellent case study in the rhetoric of regret (distinct from that of official apology and the like). Such occasions warrant scrutiny because a critical paradox–the inherent divide between dutiful remembrance of past wrongs and practical political duties that would set them aright–shapes state officials’ increasingly prevalent use of ceremonial lamentations in pursuit of geopolitical legitimacy.
Reinscribing Schlesien as Slask: Memory and Mythology in a Postwar German-Polish Borderland by Andrew Demshuk
The waves of ethnic cleansing in the 1930s and 1940s uprooted millions of East-Central Europeans and forced them to make sense of new surroundings. The Polish settlers who replaced over three million Germans in the borderland of Silesia created a layered palimpsest of new, generally nationalized meanings on an unfamiliar territory. After exploring how and why Polish leaders and settlers reinscribed formerly German and Jewish sites of memory with Polish meanings, this article investigates how, when former residents returned to visit their lost homeland, both populations confronted the palimpsest’s conflicting layers and unwittingly engaged in a transnational exchange of meanings.
Occupation Heritage, Commemoration and Memory in Guernsey and Jersey by Gilly Carr
In the British Channel Islands today, the German Occupation of World War II and its heritage have an important place in the history, identity and psyche of islanders. This is reflected in the number of restored bunkers and Occupation museums, the popularity of Liberation Day, and the growing number of Occupation memorials in the islands. This article examines the history of the treatment of Occupation heritage in the Channel Islands over the last 65 years, focusing on sites of memory and counter-memory, victims of Nazi persecution, and the changing commemorative master narratives.
Fused Together and Torn Apart: Stories and Violence in Contemporary Algeria by Malika Rahal
This article explores the constraints of contemporary history writing about Algeria. It analyzes the historiographical blocks and blind spots to show the centrality of the question of unity/plurality within Algerianness. Borrowing from anthropologist Franççoise Hééritier, it uses the notion of entre-soi to elaborate a new chronological framework, a continual sequence of war between 1945 and 2002. It also examines the impact of the rapid succession of these episodes of political violence on individual memories, and how moments of paroxysmal violence are reactivated during interviews, and considers the emotional cost for historians when they become the last recipient of narratives of forms of violence intended to terrorize.
France and the Memories of “Others”: The Case of the Harkis by Géraldine Enjelvin and Nada Korac-Kakabadse
Historical narratives help construct social identities, which are maintained through differentiation between in-groups and ”others.” In this article, we contend that Fatima Besnaci-Lancou’s texts, as well as her reconciliation work–in which she enjoins Beurs and Harkis’ offspring to write a new, inclusive, polyphonic narrative of the Algerian War–are an example of the positive use of textually mediated identity (re)construction. Her work suggests the possibility of implementing a moderate politics of empathetic recognition of the (often migration-related) memories of ”others” so as to reinforce French national belongingness.