1st Edition

Memory Sites and Conflict Dynamics Collective Memory, Identity, and Power

By Karina V. Korostelina Copyright 2025
    260 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the ways in which memory sites contribute to the dynamics of identity-based conflicts, fuelling fears, sharpening divisions, and justifying violence.

    Through an analysis of the dynamics of identity-based conflicts, the book shows how memory sites become intertwined with the transformations of social boundaries and perceptions of relative deprivation, outgroup threat, collective axiology, and power relations. It posits that these two sets of factors – the functioning of collective memory as an ideological construct and the transformation of conflictual social relations - define the role and influence of memory sites in the dynamics of identity-based conflicts. Through multiple case studies representing different dynamics -- dealing with fascist and communist pasts in Italy, post-colonial relations between South Korea and Japan, ethnic conflict in Kosovo, and tribal acknowledgement for Native American Nations – the book discusses how memory sites contribute to competition over ownership, fights for legitimacy, claims of entitlements, and negative portrayals of the Other. In doing so, it outlines four major functions of memory sites - enhancing, ascribing, interacting, and legitimizing - and shows how they contribute to and shape the structure and dynamics of conflict. Concentrating on the linkages between memory sites, violence prevention, and reconciliation, the book proposes solutions for promoting peace, including the focus on plurality of heritage, recognition of fluidity of meanings, and resistance to singular interpretations and manipulations by identity entrepreneurs. 


    This volume will be of much interest to students of peace and conflict studies, memory studies and International Relations in general.


    Part 1: Theoretical Foundations

    1.      Collective Memory as an Ideological Construct

    2.      Memory Sites in the Midst of Identity-based Conflicts

    3.      Functions of Memory Sites

    Part 2: Functioning of Memory Sites within Dynamics of Identity-Based Conflict

    4.       Continuity of Fascist Heritage and National Identity in Italy

    5.        Memory sites within unfinished reconciliation between Japan and South Korea

    6.       Memory Sites in the Dynamics of the Serbia-Kosovo Conflict

    With Michael M. Sweigart

    7.       Tribal acknowledgement and memory sites of Native Americans


    Karina V. Korostelina is a Professor and a Director of the Peace Lab on Reconciling Conflict and Intergroup Divisions at the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University, USA. Her research is supported by 50 grants and 12 fellowships, and results are presented in 18 books and over 100 articles and chapters.

    "In an age of commemoration, museums and World heritage policies, memory sites are no longer places of Memory, 'Lieux de Mémoire'  in the sense of Pierre Nora, who found in them the symbolic construction of the identity of the great nation of France, but they have become far more interesting places for public controversies about the past, the present and the future. They help us to have necessary public debates and contribute to identity building, divisions and even violent clashes in society, but also to trauma healing and in the best cases to reconciliation.  This highly scientific and well researched book of Karina Korostelina is an important step forward in understanding conflicts on memory sites. It helps to structure the field, inspires new and practically relevant viewpoints, and provides on every page an enormous joy to read."

    Martin LeinerDirector of the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies and Chair in Systematic Theology/Ethics at the Faculty of Theology at Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, Germany

    “This is an extraordinary book. It rightfully upends many of our existing preconceptions about what helps or hinders post-conflict reconciliation. It will be an invaluable resource for policy makers and practitioners searching for more effective processes to aid intergroup conflict resolution and the effective transformation of group relations that can assist sustainable peace.”

    Mari FitzduffProfessor Emerita, Heller School, Brandeis University, USA


    “This book offers a sweeping evaluation of the role of memory sites in contemporary history. It combines a distinctive theoretical assessment of the nature, functions and diverse potential of these sites, along with four original case studies, ranging from Europe to Korea to Native Americans. Above all, the book shows how a better understanding of memory sites can improve their potential in reducing rather than exacerbating ongoing conflict.”

    Peter N. StearnsDistinguished University Professor of History, George Mason University, USA