“Good Nations” and “Bad Nations”: Critical Theory, Judgement and the Naturalisation of Memory

  • David M. Seymour


This essay investigates the connections between representations of the Holocaust within public memory and within critical theory. It argues that far from offering a critique of that memory, critical theory unwittingly replicates many of its assumptions. This replication appears through acceptance of the assumed distinction between the “good nations” of Western Europe and the “bad nations” of Eastern Europe; those nations who have been remembered as unwilling collaborators, and those deemed more willing, respectively.

The essay is organised in the following way. First, turning to the question of “public memory” of the Holocaust, I outline the distinctions within it between “West” and “East” Europe; between “good nations” and “bad nations”. Secondly, through discussing contemporary critical theoretical accounts of the Holocaust, I show how such accounts, far from challenging these elements of memory, reinforce them further. At the centre of this reinforcement is a marked...


Critical Theory Body Politic Good Nation Mass Murder Mass Killing 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law, Lancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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