The ‘Affairs’ of political memory: Hermeneutical dissidence from national myth-making

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Abstract

Self-serving hegemonic visions of history are institutionalised by dominant memory entrepreneurs, simultaneously imposing an authoritative version of ‘what happened’ and their right to articulate it. These visions and the hierarchies of honour they consecrate are cultivated trans-generationally, aiming to ensure the community’s political cohesion, as well as the emotional attachments that can ensure its reproduction over time. This paper has three objectives. First, it brings insights from social epistemology to bear on a conceptualisation of political memory-making and proposes the concepts of ‘hermeneutical dissidence’ and ‘hermeneutical seduction’ to capture the critical interrogation of such mythologies. It highlight the obstacles facing any attempt at subverting them, particularly given the resilience of cognitive and emotional investments in particular schemas of perception and understanding in relation to the boundaries of the community and its history. Second, I transplant the descriptive concept of ‘affair’ formulated by pragmatic sociologists into debates about political memory, infusing it with a dose of normativity in order to shed critical light on various types of hermeneutical dissidence from dominant, emotionally-anchored, exclusionary imaginaries. Third, to render the theoretical proposal concrete, I introduce two ‘memory affairs’, both triggered by debates over the meaning and gender of political resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-69
Number of pages18
JournalAngelaki: Journal of Theoretical Humanities
Volume24
Issue number4
Early online date9 Jul 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • masculinist resistance
  • political memory
  • hermeneutical dissidence
  • hermeneutical seduction
  • affair
  • Louis Malle
  • Herta Müller

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