Reading List

A collection of key readings in the field of history, heritage and memory relevant to the topic of Contested Histories. If you have suggestions or believe some essential readings are missing, please contact us at

Is It Wrong to Topple Statues and Rename Schools?

By Joanna Burch-Brown 2017

In recent years, campaigns across the globe have called for the removal of objects symbolic of white supremacy. This paper examines the ethics of altering or removing such objects. Do these strategies sanitize history, destroy heritage and suppress freedom of speech? Or are they important steps towards justice? Does removing monuments and renaming schools reflect a lack of parity and unfairly erase local identities? Or can it sometimes be morally required, as an expression of respect for the memories of… Read More

Collective Memory, Politics, and the Influence of the Past

The Politics of Memory as a Research Paradigm

By Peter J. Verovšek 2016

The author discusses the past in the context of memories and collective remembrance, and how memories are utilised in the politics of the present day. Both relevant literature, and discursive conception of the politics of memory, are presented. Read More

Historical Justice and Memory

By Klaus Neumann & Janna Thompson (Eds.) 2015

Historical Justice and Memory highlights the global movement for historical justice—acknowledging and redressing historic wrongs—as one of the most significant moral and social developments of our times. Such historic wrongs include acts of genocide, slavery, systems of apartheid, the systematic persecution of presumed enemies of the state, colonialism, and the oppression of or discrimination against ethnic or religious minorities. Read More

Post-Communist Poland

Contested Pasts and Future Identities

By Ewa Ochman 2013

The book explores the reinterpretations of Poland’s past which have been undertaken by Polish national and local elites since the fall of communism. It focuses on remembrance practices and traces the de-commemorating of communism to examine the ways in which collective remembering and forgetting shapes present power constellations in Poland and impacts on foreign and domestic policy. Read More

How is Historical Knowledge Recognized?

By Ernest Wamba-Dia-Wamba 2008

The author discusses the concept of historical memory, what is it and how is it collected, and how historical knowledge plays an integral part in social transformations and developments. Read More

Sorry States

Apologies in International Politics

By Jennifer Lind 2008

The post-World War II experiences of Japan and Germany suggest that international apologies have powerful healing effects when they are offered, and poisonous effects when withheld. The author demonstrates that denials of past atrocities fuel distrust and inhibit international reconciliation, by examining the cases of South Korean relations with Japan and of French relations with Germany. Read More

Explaining Wartime Rape

By Jonathan Gottschall 2004

The article provides a brief overview of the literature on wartime rape in historical and ethnographical societies and a critical analysis of the four leading explanations for its root causes: the feminist theory, the cultural pathology theory, the strategic rape theory, and the biosocial theory. Read More

From Conflict Resolution to Reconciliation

By Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov 2004

While conflict resolution is believed to cause temporary settlements and brief periods of peace in volatile situations, conventional conflict resolution techniques are not capable of building long-term stability. Instead, this book contends, practitioners of conflict resolution need to focus more on reconciliation (the restoration of confidence, friendship, and harmony between rivals) than on mere conflict resolution. Read More

Theorizing Historical Consciousness

By Peter Seixas 2004

Theorizing Historical Consciousness sets various theoretical approaches to the study of historical consciousness side-by-side, enabling us to chart the future study of how people understand the past. Within this book, the problem of historical consciousness from the disciplinary perspectives of history, historiography, philosophy, collective memory, psychology, and history education, is addressed. Read More

Voices of Collective Remembering

By James V. Wertsch 2002

The author outlines a particular version of collective remembering grounded in the use of ‘textual resources’, especially narratives. This takes him into the special properties of narrative that shape this process and into the issues of how these textual resources are produced and consumed. Wertsch brings these general ideas to life by examining the rapid, massive transformation of collective memory during the transition from Soviet to post-Soviet Russia. Read More

Myths and Memories of the Nation

By Anthony D. Smith 1999

Myths and Memories of the Nation explores the roots of nationalism by examining the myths, symbols and memories of the nation through a ‘ethno-symbolic’ approach. The book reveals the continuing power of myth and memory to mobilise, define and shape people and their destinies, examines the variety and durability of ethnic attachments and national identities, and assesses the contemporary revival of ethnic conflicts and nationalism. Read More