Peace and the politics of memory

By Johanna Mannergren, Annika Björkdahl, Susanne Buckley-Zistel, Stefanie Kappler and Timothy Williams

Peace and the politics of memory
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  • ISBN: 9781526178312
  • Publish Date: Jul 2024
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    This important book provides new understandings of how the politics of memory impacts peace in societies transitioning from a violent past. It does so by developing a theoretical approach focusing on the intersection of sites, agency, narratives, and events in memory-making. Drawing on rich empirical studies of mnemonic formations in Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, South Africa and Cambodia, the book speaks to a broad audience. The in-depth, cross-case analysis shows that inclusivity, pluralism, and dignity in memory politics are key to the construction of a just peace. The book contributes crucial and timely knowledge about societies that grapple with the painful legacies of the past and advances the study of memory and peace.


    'The five authors each with their expertise and through collaboration have produced a ground-breaking contribution to Memory Studies, Conflict and Peace Studies and to feminist methodology. These different area studies are in conversation with each other as are the five cases discussed in the book (Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, South Africa and Cambodia). Although each have a different history(ies) they all share a past filled with the dynamics of conflict (internal and external) with grievances, violations of dignity, humiliation, human and material losses as well as selectively constructing a politics of memory (and forgetting), often used as a political strategy to either sustain the conflict or to contribute to complex durable peace processes and justice. The authors discuss memory (which is not cohesive but fluid too) by integrating the concept of the 'political power of memory' showing how different agents can use this power to define the past so as to legitimise their positions and influence the quality of the future peace processes. The authors strongly believe these interactions should be grown locally and owned by the people-a critique of top down liberal peace . The use of SANE (Sites, Agents, Narratives, Events), an inclusive theoretical framework of analysis which the authors developed and used in each of the case studies, can be applied to many other similar post-conflict societies, thus unpacking both the concepts of memory politics-mnemonic formations - and the concept of peace (beyond the binary negative and positive peace). The authors understand peace(s) (in the plural) as dynamic processes continually 'becoming', thus recognising the different ways in which peace manifests itself in conflict-affected societies in their everyday life characterized by plurality, dignity and inclusivity.
    This is a book needed more than ever today witnessing how the power of the past, the politics of memory (ies) and unaddressed grievances flare up new crises and insecurities and conflicts.'
    Maria Hadjipavlou , retired Associate Professor, Conflict Resolution and Gender Studies, University of Cyprus., and author of 'Women and Change in Cyprus: Feminisms, Gender in Conflict" I.B.Tauris 2010

    'This collaborative study offers an innovative and reflective - often poignant - and important study of how 'mnemonic rituals and practices' shape the social and political dynamics of conflict and peacemaking. Via reflective and long-term research engagements in Bosnia, Cambodian, Cyprus, Rwanda and South Africa, it extends the 'local turn' in peace and conflict studies. It offers a much deeper insight than hitherto achieved in the literature into the complex and intimate dynamics of these conflicts. Through the commemoration of violent events, mourning, official apologies, the building or removal of monuments, rituals and ceremonies, exhibitions or museums, and informal gatherings and networks, the social dynamics of both conflict and peace emerge and are entangled. They may build bridges or reinforce division. This volume is a milestone that traverses the frontiers of existing thinking about the possibilities of everyday peacemaking, as well as the social and political terms of the wider, deeper, more complex forms that are clearly necessary. This book helps us better understand the deep entanglement of contemporary conflict and violence, as well as new avenues to make peace.'
    Oliver P. Richmond, Professor, University of Manchester

    'This book offers much needed SANE framework to examine the complex relationship between memory and peace in societies that are in transition from war to peace. The authors draw from their various rich research experiences to provide powerful comparative analysis of five complex that are experiencing the processes of memorialization and the search for durable peace. The book makes an innovative contribution to interdisciplinary debates on memory and peace at a moment when many societies in our world are negotiating memories of their pasts while searching for durable peace.
    David Mwambari, Associate Professor KU Leuven University, Belgium and author of Navigating Cultural Memory, Commemoration and Narrative in Postgenocide Rwanda, Oxford University Press 2023.


    1 Mnemonic formations: An analytical approach to memory and peace
    2 Cyprus: Parallel peace(s) and competing nationalisms
    3 Bosnia and Herzegovina: Remembering the siege of Sarajevo
    4 Rwanda: The role of the internationals
    5 South Africa: The legacies of colonialism
    6 Cambodia: The power of the dead
    7 Memory and the quality of peace: Plurality, dignity and inclusivity


    Johanna Mannergren is Associate Professor in Peace and Development Research in the School of Social Sciences at Södertörn University.
    Annika Björkdahl is Professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science at Lund University.
    Susanne Buckley-Zistel is Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the Center for Conflict Studies, Philipps University Marburg.
    Stefanie Kappler is Professor in Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding at the School of Government and International Affairs / Durham Global Security Institute, Durham University.
    Timothy Williams is Junior Professor of Insecurity and Social Order in the Institute for Political Science Department of Social Sciences and Public Affairs at Bundeswehr University Munich.

    Peace and the politics of memory

    By Johanna Mannergren, Annika Björkdahl, Susanne Buckley-Zistel, Stefanie Kappler, Timothy Williams

    Hardcover £25.00 / $44.95

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