Special Issue on Memory Politics and the Resurgence of Nationalism and Right-Wing Populism”

Articles / Special Issue Reimagining Political Identity and Ideology in Europe: Memory Politics and the Resurgence of Nationalism and Right-Wing Populism)

A new wave of memory politics has re-shaped European politics: the traditional narrative of European democracies of being built on the collective experience of war, fascism, Holocaust, and Soviet-style Communism is currently re-evaluated on different fronts. Most prominently, for many Central and East European countries, a more exclusionary, ethno-culturally framed nationalism has become a critical reference point in directing forms of collective identity and political ideologies. At the same time, right-wing populists from across Europe have embarked on questioning the long-established political lessons drawn from past authoritarian regimes and the anti-fascist foundations of Western democracies. In contrast, the European Union seeks to promote a European memory culture that, based on shared historical experiences and political principles, could transcend the divisiveness of a resurgent nationalism.

This Special Issue explores how historical narratives are mobilized in contemporary Europe, why they have become so prominent (and controversial) in public discourse, and what kind of political objectives are driving them.

Open access to the

National or Multicultural? A Common Narrative about History in the Baltic States after 1991 by Beata Halicka

In this article, I describe common narratives of history in postcommunist Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia and explore the intersection between multiculturalism and memory politics. I argue that dealing with history is a challenge in these countries and can be seen as part of […] Read more.

Mirroring Truths: How Liberal Democracies Are Challenging Their Foundational Narratives by Carles Fernandez-Torne and Graeme Young

Long-established liberal democracies with histories of settler colonialism—from the United States and Canada to Australia and Scandinavia—are beginning to explore their histories of violence and dispossession. This, in many ways, is long overdue, but the desire to come to terms with past injustices […] Read more.

Competing Historical Narratives: Memory Politics, Identity, and Democracy in Germany and Poland by Oliver Schmidtke

This article considers the growing rift between Western and Eastern Europe regarding the commemoration of Europe’s recent past and related historical narratives of nationhood that shape contemporary political preferences. More specifically, it investigates the connections between collective memory, national identities, and democratic cultures […] Read more.