History Librarian points to the current Eurozine: European Memory: Towards a Grand Narrative, with offerings by several heavy weights. In particular, Jan-Werner Müller’s Europäischen Erinnergungspolitik Revisited discusses the prospects of European memory, the methodological, theoretical and political problems of its construction. I’ve hastily translated a snippet (errors are my own):

This is not to say that there are suddenly all kinds of common memories to be shared across Europe: Europe’s many memories are split and will remain this way for a long time–perhaps forever. At best we have to work with a European “historical aura”. Enough commonalities and starting points are available in current cultural memories in order to bring about an exploration of commonalities and differences. This process can in turn lead to a destabilization and “decentralization” of the memorial cultures of nations–without which important historical (and moral) differences would be blurred. Preoccupation with histoires croisées or entangled histories allows at least the possibility of an “overlapping consensus” … in many central questions of historical sentiment–thus a consensus … which does not automatically put the entirety of national sentiment in doubt.

The last sentence shows the real possibility for a future European memory: using cross-border histories to deflate the tensions that surround national histories and comparative histories. It mirrors “Europe” in its structure, existing most strongly farthest from the centers of power, at the territorial and social peripheries.

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