Security And Memory Essay

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Security and memory

The aim of this essay is to argue that in addition to physical security, states also seek ontological security. I shall focus on the question of treating national identity and history as problems of security – i.e. discuss how and why memory gets designated in the security language. I will also discuss how collective remembrance can be securitised on a state, as well as on the international level. My referent object is therefore collective memory; by 'memory' I mean a discursive strategy of remembering the past that is implemented by political actors. Empirically, I address the relevance of the past and the semantic conflicts over the interpretation of history in Eastern Europe.
About the construction of narratives
A society transforms history into a cultural memory via a selection process, much like a writer who chooses to explicitly describe only some parts of the story he creates. Therefore, narratives are structured by emplotment, relationality, connectivity, and selective appropriation, all of which can make them unreliable. Memory (and history) can be influenced by the authorities’ legitimating narratives, starting with school textbooks and ending with open pressure on those that create the information available in a society (such as professional historians). Since historical narratives are constructed, they can easily be used for political purposes.
How is memory securitised?
The end of the Cold War created an environment for the emergence of Constructivist and post-modern approaches to the concept of security, which enabled to address issues that were previously ignored by Realists. However, Michael Williams has argued that identity has not been missing from theorising prior to the end of...

... middle of paper ... and their 'others'. Desecuritisation of memory and pluralism instead of consensus in remembering in my opinion would help depoliticise some public political issues that are present in CEECs (integration policies concerning Russian minorities, immigration, language issues etc), but it is questionable if it is possible to depoliticise memory at all, i.e. move “out of a logic of security”.
The proposed solution in the essay would still be pluralism instead of consensus in remembering:
The recognition of the other´s different stories means reaching an agreement to disagree on the ´national´ interpretations of historical events and issues rather than telling a single joint narrative on the past.
Self-image is inextricably interwoven with images of the other and therefore also with foreign policy.
Security seeking might also be viewed as a social practice.
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