Accueil > Wars of Memory

BHIS 1825A - Wars of Memory

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

Our world seems to live under the “tyranny of Memory” (Pierre.Nora). “Realms of memory”, “laws of memory”, “clashes of memory”, these are some of the overwhelming expressions one can hear in the public debate in countries as different as France, Japan, China, Spain or South Africa. But there is maybe no area today where collective memory –whether national or religious- is more constantly used as a political resource than in the Mediterranean world and especially in the Middle East. The course will be this year entirely dedicated to this area and the papers will deal with key contemporary issue as the use of the Islamic glorious past in Al Qaeda's and ISIS's rhetoric, the Holocaust in Israeli politics, the Armenian genocide in Turkey, or the traumas of colonization and decolonization in French-Algerian relations... From these examples, one sees how closely memory and history are linked with internal and external conflicts: in other words, wars of memory are often rooted in the memory of wars and conversely, These relations between history and memory, between memory and war, can already be seen in the first historical writings of western civilization, originating precisely from the Mediterranean area, with the works of the ancient Greek historians and the central place of memory in Roman politics. From these beginnings until today can we draw a general line? Can one speak of a “perpetual enmity” between East and West? Do the wars of memory validate the theory of the “clash of civilizations”? Is there something as a common “process of memory” at work throughout time and space? What is the role of the world wide web in this process? And what can be the attitude of the historians confronted to conflicting memories? Here are some of the issues at stake, which we will raise through the study of primary sources and collective works by the students.


DE VOOGD, Christophe (Enseignant-chercheur, Sciences Po)

Course validation

Written paper : 25% Midterm : 25% Final Exam : 50%

Required reading

  • BURUMA, Ian, MARGALIT, Avishai, Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (London: Atlantic Books, 2004).
  • PAGDEN, Anthony, Worlds at War: The 2500 Years Struggle between East and West (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
  • SAID, Edward, Orientalism (London: Penguin Books, 1977).