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Negotiating the past: Claims for recognitionand policies of memory in the EU


  • Carlos Closa


During the last years, several subjects have advanced claims for developing within the EU specific elements of what is often referred to as policies of memory. Whilst this trend could be perceived as one more instance of transference of domestic issues to the EU level, the distinctive trait of these claims is that claims on memory are associated both to justice and identity and, hence, they appeal to an underlying structure of normative justification. This paper examines these claims and discusses the normative argument supporting them. The argument revises, firstly, what are the policies of memory and, secondly, it discusses the relation between policies and politics towards the past in order to unveil the subjective component associated to recognition. The subjective dimension of recognition paves the way for asserting the location of victims as the most legitimate bearer of claims for recognition. The third section describes the very limited policies and politics of memory in the EU in order to enter, fourthly, into a deeper analysis of the new claims emerging in the post 2004 scenery. The argument elaborates then a theoretical frame which draws on the notion of 'recognition order' of Honneth in order to establish the normative foundation for EU policies of memory. Being the EU a recognition order, claims referring memory cannot be legitimately excluded from the EU agenda. Nevertheless, legitimacy of claims for recognition does not mean that policies and proposals linked to these claims have automatic validity. Rather, policies must derive from EU wide deliberation on the claims and the proper policies to pursue having in mind a number of requirements. The conclusion sums up the argument.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Closa, 2010. "Negotiating the past: Claims for recognitionand policies of memory in the EU," Working Papers 1008, Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos (IPP), CSIC.
  • Handle: RePEc:ipp:wpaper:1008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vincent Della Sala, 2010. "Political Myth, Mythology and the European Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48, pages 1-19, January.
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