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Victimhood as victory: The role of memory politics in the process of de-Europeanisation in East-Central Europe

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To a large extent, the traditional narrative of EU integration has revolved around reconciliation and peace-building after the Second World War. This article examines how current memory work in nationalist movements in East-Central Europe subverts this moral story and uses it as the basis for a politics of backlash against the EU. Recent developments in national commemoration and remembrance practices in the region have enabled not only the glorification of the national past but also the suppression of 'heretical' interpretations of specific traumatic historical episodes. The fault lines of national belonging are now often used to eclipse stories of post-war state reconciliation in Europe and focus directly on the victimised population. As a result, commemorations carry strong normative and moral overtones related to justice and culpability. Nationalism in this context has received moral connotation and, vice versa, questions of morality become questions of nationhood. The 'we' of this distinguishing work embodies a subject of immaculate historical innocence and victimhood; by extension, the 'others' always bear responsibility and guilt. This nationalist moral classification work changes and reframes the moral underpinnings of the EU enlargement. The victim theme has adhered a strong potential to garner solidarity among various social groups in East-Central Europe against the EU. The role of victimiser is easily projected onto both the abstract notion of the 'European elites' and the supposed allies of those elites: the internal 'others'.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 2019

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

    The Journal features a mix of full-length articles, each accompanied by one or more replies, policy papers commissioned by organizations and institutions and book review symposia, typically consisting of three reviews and a reply by the author(s). With an international advisory editorial board consisting of experienced, highly-cited academics, Global Discourse publishes themed issues on topics as they emerge. Authors are encouraged to explore the international dimensions and implications of their work.

    All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and double-blind peer review. All submissions must be in response to a specific call for papers.

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