Laws against Holocaust denial are perhaps the best-known manifestation of the present-day politics of historical memory. In Memory Laws, Memory Wars, Nikolay Koposov examines the phenomenon of memory laws in Western and Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia and exposes their very different purposes in the East and West. In Western Europe, he shows how memory laws were designed to create a common European memory centred on the memory of the Holocaust as a means of integrating Europe, combating racism, and averting national and ethnic conflicts. In Russia and Eastern Europe, by contrast, legislation on the issues of the past is often used to give the force of law to narratives which serve the narrower interests of nation states and protect the memory of perpetrators rather than victims. This will be essential reading for all those interested in ongoing conflicts over the legacy of the Second World War, Nazism, and communism.
Nikolay Koposov is a Russian historian currently teaching at Emory University, Atlanta, having previously worked at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and The Johns Hopkins University. He was Founding Dean of Russia's first and only (to date) liberal arts college - Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a joint venture of Saint-Petersburg State University and Bard College, New York. His research deals with various aspects of modern historiography and historical memory, from Early Modern France to post-Soviet Russia. His book How Historians Think (2001) was translated into French by Editions de l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales as De l'imagination historique (2009).
Introduction; 1. The rise of memory and the origins of memory laws; 2. Memory laws in Western Europe; 3. Memory laws in Eastern Europe; 4. Memory laws in Ukraine; 5. Memory laws in Yeltsin's Russia; 6. Memory laws in Putin's Russia; Conclusion.