Postnational Memory, Peace and War: Making Pasts Beyond Borders, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Postnational Memory, Peace and War

Making Pasts Beyond Borders, 1st Edition

By Nigel Young


364 pages | 32 Color Illus. | 32 B/W Illus.

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This book examines the phenomenon of modern memory as a reaction to total war, an aspiration to truth-seeking provoked by the independent forces of modern war and collective violence which is transnational, or postnational, in character. Using examples from prose and poetry, film and theatre, painting and photography, and music and the popular arts, the author traces a narrative path through the events of the twentieth century, defining the tradition of modern memory in terms of its essentially anti-militaristic, anti-war character, as expressed in the manner in which it represents recalled violence and atrocity. Through a series of thematic discussions of two world wars, the Shoah, urbicide and nuclear weapons, Postnational Memory explores the formation of transnational memory, drawing on examples from industrialized societies, with a focus on memory of real events and their reproduction in literature and the arts, often including personal recollections that link the self to the represented past. As such, by asking how the concept of modern memory is constructed through the victims of war and genocide, the book constitutes an alternative to national memories and hegemonic, militarist or ethnocentric histories. Surveying the emergence of new, transnational forms of remembering the past, it will appeal to students and scholars of sociology, memory studies and peace studies, as well as those working in disciplines such as modern and international history, cultural studies and military studies.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Memory and Counter-Memory


Vignette: Being There - A Cotswold Vignette (Adlestrop)

Introduction: Defining Modern Memory

Vignette: Kennington At Laventie

1. A Memorable Engagement –The War to End War – and its Legacy (inc. Vignette: ‘Bradford Pals’)

2. The Great Sunk Silences: The Nature of Forgetting and the Unbearable Pain of Recall

3. Memory’s New Voice

4. Generations of Memory: War Booms and Memory Booms

5. Strange Meetings and Cosmopolitan Sympathies (inc. Vignette: Eugen Gehweiler, Vignette: ‘An Espresso Moment’)

Part 2: Against Forgetting – Retrieving a Borderless Past

6. Memory after the "Shoah" (inc. Vignette: Being There: Poland: 1988, 1996)

7. Airwar and Memory (inc. Vignette: A Silence, Vignette: ‘Bambi’; ‘Belsen and Memory of the Camps’)

Part 3: Re-Writing Memory

8. Beyond Amnesia: Breaking Silences (inc. Vignette: Benicàssim – Raising the Ghosts of Castillon De La Plana)

9. Testimony of Place (inc. Vignette: Walking the Fields of Memory: Germany 1994, France and Flanders (1988 and 1992))

10. Beyond Militarism? Peace and War in Civil Memory (inc. Vignette: Oh! What a Lovely War! Vignette: A Mass of Memoried Flowers – Poppies and Ploughboys)11. Postnational Memory and National Conflict: Remembrance in a Globalising Society

Part 4: Towards a History of Modern Memory

12. Towards a History of Modern Memory I: The Work of the Precursors

13. Towards a History of Modern Memory II: A Memory-Work Timeline

14. The Past in the Present- Metamorphosen (inc. Vignette: Yevgeny Khaldei - The Malleability of Memory and the Reichstag Photo, 1945)

About the Author


Nigel Young is Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Research Professor in Peace Studies at Colgate University, USA. He is the editor in chief of the Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace and co-editor of Campaigns for Peace: The British Peace Movement in the 20th Century. He is the author of Nation State and War Resistance, On War, National Liberation and The State, and An Infantile Disorder? The Crisis and Decline of the New Left, and the co-author of Pacifism in the 20th Century.

About the Series

Memory Studies: Global Constellations

Memory Studies: Global Constellations

Memory Studies as an academic field of cultural inquiry emerges at a time when global public debates, buttressed by the fragmentation of nation states and their traditional narratives, have greatly accelerated. Societies are today pregnant with newly unmediated memories, once sequestered in broad collective representations and their ideological stances. But, the ‘past in the present’ has returned with a vengeance in the early 21st Century, and with it an expansion of categories of cultural experience and meaning. This new series explores the social and cultural stakes around forgetting, useful forgetting and remembering, locally, regionally, nationally and globally. It welcomes studies of migrant memory from failed states; micro-histories battling against collective memories; the mnemonic past of emotions; the mnemonic spatiality of sites of memory; and the reconstructive ethics of memory in the face of galloping informationalization, as this renders the ‘mnemonic’ more and more public and publically accessible.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General