Master of International Affairs   Master of Public Policy  

The politics of memory

Wars, civil wars and violent conflicts in and between communities and states cause immense collective and individual physical and psychological suffering. They also leave lasting scars in the minds of both vicitims and aggressors. Societies that wish to build a peaceful future for their members need to deal with such scars. For that purpose, reconciliation between past enemies may be necessary - or not. As the present international situation shows, reconciliation is not easy to achieve but even in complex circumstances it is not impossible. Wherever we look - the wars in the Middle East, interracial conflicts in the United States, or post-Apartheit South Africa - we find different cases of collective memories of suffering translated into politics decades or even centuries later. Memory is shaped by past events; but it also responds to present modes of thinking. It therefore may be a cause as well as a tool of politics, it may mediate identities of communities as well as of individuals and it may positively or negatively impact the future relationship between comuunities and/or nations. The course is designed for students with a strong interest in social sciences as an approach to the human condition in general and an interest in how politics is shaped by policymakers as well as by the influence of factors beyond politicians' control such as pre-formed mind frames, traditions of thought and attitudes transmitted through societal influences.