The yearning for historical justice – that is, for the redress of past wrongs – has become one of the defining features of our age. Governments, international bodies and civil society organisations address historical injustices through truth commissions, tribunals, official apologies and other transitional justice measures. Historians produce knowledge of past human rights violations, and museums, memorials and commemorative ceremonies try to keep that knowledge alive and remember the victims of injustices.
In this book, researchers with a background in history, archaeology, cultural studies, literary studies and sociology explore the various attempts to recover and remember the past as a means of addressing historic wrongs. Case studies include sites of persecution in Germany, Argentina and Chile, the commemoration of individual victims of Nazi Germany, memories of life under South Africa’s apartheid regime, and the politics of memory in Israel and in Northern Ireland. The authors critique memory, highlight silences and absences, explore how to engage with the ghosts of the past, and ask what drives individuals, including professional historians, to strive for historical justice.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Rethinking History.
1. Introduction: Historians and the yearning for historical justice Klaus Neumann
2. The disappearing museum Marivic Wyndham and Peter Read
3. Stumbling blocks in Germany Linde Apel
4. The ethics of nostalgia in post-apartheid South Africa Judith Lütge Coullie
5. Excavating Tempelhof airfield: objects of memory and the politics of absence Maria Theresia Starzmann
6. Jewish Haifa denies its Arab past Gilad Margalit
7. Ghosts and compañeros: haunting stories and the quest for justice around Argentina’s former terror sites Estela Schindel
8. The desire for justice, psychic reparation and the politics of memory in ‘post-conflict’ Northern Ireland Graham Dawson