Memory Laws in European and Comparative Perspectives
The MELA project’s aim is to examine memory laws throughout Europe and the world.
Memory laws enshrine state-approved interpretations of crucial historical events. They commemorate the victims of past atrocities, as well as heroic individuals or events emblematic of national and social movements. They date back centuries and continue to spread throughout Europe and the world.
The team is comprised of researchers from four countries.
In Sanskrit, the word mela means ‘meeting’ or ‘gathering’. That image recalls the pan-European role of memory laws, but also elicits a paradox. State-constructed memory ‘gathers’ citizens under a mantel of symbolic unity, yet, in a multicultural society, precariously threatens that unity.
The project asks the following questions:
- When do memory laws conflict with values of democratic citizenship, political pluralism or fundamental human rights?
- Are the punitive laws inevitably abusive?
- Are the non-punitive ones mostly benign?
- Are there optimal ways for states to propagate historical memory?