This introduction to the special issue start from the point that studying the politics of memory should also involve studying the governance and policies of memory: its administrations. The increasing importance of transnational and local scales in memory studies seems to have made the nation a less relevant starting point from which to conceptualize memory. Yet, states progressively attempt to administer memory. This suggests that we should focus at once on transcending methodological nationalism and bringing back the state in the study of the politics of memory. This involves thinking about administrations of memory both in terms of the processes of dispensing or aiding memory and as the state bodies that are authorized and expected to manage memory. As such, this introductory chapter is structured around two issues: (a) the interactions between transnational, national, and local scales in policy trajectories, practices, and discourses on memory and (b) the role of governance and administration in understanding memory as a category of public intervention. Both sets present a thumbnail case to illustrate the issues at stake, and taken together, they develop our ongoing reflexions on memory as a contemporary conduit for practicing politics and setting up political institutions. The ambition is for memory studies to gain a firmer understanding of the governmental and technocratic co-production of political languages for memory as they are themselves shaped in the policymaking process by (trans)national institutional practices and bureaucratic conduits. In turn, political science approaches on the whole may gain from a firmer appreciation and conceptualization of the structures and carriers of collective memory in and across particular political cultures, which may also lead to more reflexive policy instrumentation and programming in contemporary societies trying to deal in and with the past.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
The Northern Irish NGO Healing Through Remembering defines storytelling as ‘A project or process which allows reflection, expression, listening, and possible collection of personal, communal and institutional stories related to the conflict in and over Northern Ireland’ (2002).
Herweg (2016) defines a policy community as a “mainly loose connection of civil servants, interest-groups, academics, researchers and consultants (the so-called hidden participants), who engage in working out alternatives to the policy problems of a specific policy field” (2016, p. 132).
HTR is a cross community organization working with people from diverse backgrounds both within and outside of Northern Ireland. Their work contributes to, and informs, the public debate about dealing with the violent past in Northern Ireland, not least in terms of developing policy. It matches the definition of a policy community.
Online since November 2014, the “Accounts of the Conflict” is a digital archive of personal accounts of the conflict, based in Ulster University and designed to provide for the long-term storage of stories related to ‘the Troubles” in, and about, Northern Ireland. Accounts of the Conflict is funded from the European Union’s PEACE lll program, managed by the Special EU Programs Body. The archive contains collections of personal accounts, the vast majority of which have been collected by a wide range of community-based organizations and projects across Northern Ireland and beyond. The website will also have a facility for future story-telling projects to deposit digital versions with the Accounts of the Conflict archive. (Accounts of the Conflict, web).
The Belfast Project at Boston College had collected life stories from the rank and file of paramilitary organizations like the IRA and the UVF from 2001 to 2006 for a future establishment of a historical record, but these have been subpoenaed by law enforcements agencies in Northern Ireland since 2011 to be used in current and potential trials (McMurtrie’s 2014).
Importantly, the name of the Ministry has changed over time, but for brevity and clarity we will apply this most recent iteration.
Andersson, J. (2018). The future of the world. Futurology, futurists, and the struggle for the post Cold War imagination. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Aronoff, M. J. (2002). Political culture. In N. J. Smelzer & P. B. Baltes (Eds.), International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences. Oxford: Elsevier.
Assmann, A. (2014). Transnational memories. European Review, 22, 546–556.
Birnbaum, P. (1981). State, centre and bureaucracy. Government and Opposition, 1, 58–77.
Bogdanor, V. (1999). Devolution in the United Kingdom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bull, A. C., & Hansen, H. L. (2015). On agonistic memory. Memory Studies, 9(4), 390–404.
Danilova, N. (2015). The politics of war commemoration in the UK and Russia.. London: Palgrave.
Darby, J., & MacGinty, R. (2000). The Management of Peace Processes. London: Macmillan.
De Cesari, C., & Rigney, A. (2014). Introduction. In C. De Cesari & A. Rigney (Eds.), Transnational memory: circulation, articulation, scales (pp. 147–168). Berlin: De Gruyter.
De Cock, L. (2018). Sur l’enseignement de l’histoire. Débats, programmes et pratiques de la fin du XIX e siècle à nos jours. Paris: Libertalia.
Formisano, R. (2001). The concept of political culture. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 31(3), 393–426.
Garcia, P. (2009). Il y avait une fois la France. Le Président et l’histoire en France (1958-2007). In C. Delacroix, F. Dosse, & P. Garcia (Eds.), Historicités (pp. 183–202). Paris: La Découverte.
Gavriely-Nuri, D. (2013). Collective memory as a metaphor: The case of speeches by Israeli prime ministers 2001–2009. Memory Studies, 7(1), 46–60.
Gensburger, S. (2014). Comprendre la multiplication des ‘journées de commémoration nationale’: étude d’un instrument d’action publique de nature symbolique. In C. Halpern, P. Lascoumes, & P. Le Galès (Eds.), L’instrumentation de l’action publique. Controverses, résistances, effets (pp. 345–365). Paris: Presses de Sciences Po.
Gensburger, S. (2016a). National policy, global memory. The commemoration of the righteous among the nations from Jerusalem to Paris. New York: Berghahn Books.
Gensburger, S. (2016b). Does the French state conduct a politics of memory? In J. Guixé i Coromines (Ed.), Past & power. Public policies on memory debates, from global to local (pp. 89–101). Barcelona: Barcelona University Press.
Gensburger, S., & Lefranc, S. (2017). A quoi servent les politiques de mémoire? Paris: Presses de Sciences Po.
Haass, R. & M. O’Sullivan. (2013). The Haass report: office of the first minister and deputy first minister. Retrieved from https://www.northernireland.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/newnigov/haass-report-2013.pdf.
Hamber, B. & Kelly, G. (2004). A working definition of reconciliation. Occasional paper published by Democratic Dialogue, Belfast.
Herweg, N. (2016). Clarifying the concept of policy communities in the multiple streams framework. In R. Zohlnhöfer, F. W. Rüb (Eds.), Decision-making under ambiguity and time constraints: Assessing the multiple streams framework (pp. 125–145). ECPR Press.
Human Rights Council. (2014). A/HRC/28/36. Summary of panel discussion on history teaching and memorialization processes. Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session28/Pages/ListReports.aspx, accessed. 10.07.18.
Iriye, A. (2013). Global and Transnational History: The Past, Present, and Future. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kansteiner, W. (2002). Finding meaning in memory: a methodological critique of collective memory studies. History and Theory, 41(2), 179–197.
Kelly, G. (2005). Storytelling audit. Belfast: healing through remembering.
King, D., & Le Galès, P. (2017). Reconfiguring European states in crisis. Oxford University Press: Oxford.
Kerwin, L. K. (2000). On the emergence of memory in historical discourse. Representations, 69, 127–150.
König, K. (2003). On the Typology of Public Administration. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 69(4), 449–462.
Lebow, N. (2008). The future of memory. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 617(1), 25–41.
Levy, D., & Sznaider, N. (2002). Memory Unbound, The Holocaust and the formation of cosmopolitan memory. European Journal of Social Theory, 5(1), 87–106.
Lijphart, A. (1977). Democracy in plural societies: a comparative exploration. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Mann, M. (1984). The autonomous power of the state: its origins, mechanisms and results. European Journal of Sociology / Archives Européennes de Sociologie / Europäisches Archiv für Soziologie, 25(2), 185–213.
McClelland, R. (2002). Healing through remembering: the report of the healing through remembering project. Retrieved from http://healingthroughremembering.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/HTR-Report-2002.pdf.
McEvoy, K. (2013). Dealing with the past? An overview of legal and political approaches relating to the conflict in and about Northern Ireland, Retrieved from http://healingthroughremembering.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Dealing-with-the-Past_2013.pdf.
McGarry, J., & O’Leary, B. (2004). The Northern Ireland conflict: consociational engagements. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
MacGinty, R. (2012). Routine peace: technocracy and peacebuilding. Cooperation and Conflict, 47(3), 287–308.
McMurtrie, B. (2014). http://www.chronicle.com/interactives/belfast.
McQuaid, S. D. (2016). Notes on studying public policies of memory: the parades commission in Northern Ireland and the institutionalization of memory practices. In M. Corporaal, C. Cusack, & R. Van den Beuken (Eds.), Irish studies and the dynamics of memory: Transitions and transformations (pp. 129–147). Bern: Peter Lang.
McQuaid, S. D. (2018). Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Institutionalizing Radical Disagreement and dealing with the past in Northern Ireland. In O. Wæver, I. Bramsen, & P. Poder (Eds.), Resolving international conflict: dynamics of escalation and continuation. London: Routledge.
Mettler, S. (2002). Bringing the state back in to civic engagement: policy feedback effects of the G.I. Bill for World War II veterans. The American Political Science Review, 96(2), 351–365.
Meyer, E. (2010). Memory and politics. In A. Erll & A. Nünning (Eds.), A companion to cultural memory studies (pp. 173–180). Berlin: De Gruyter.
Mitchell, P. (1995). Party competition in an ethnic dual party system. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 18(4), 773–796.
Moore, R. (2008). Conversation Guide on Dealing with the Past Healing Through Remembering. Belfast.
Müller, J.-W. (Ed.). (2002). Memory and power in post-war Europe. Studies in the presence of the past. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nicolescu, B. (2008). Transdisciplinarity—theory and practice (Ed.). Cresskill: Hampton Press.
Nora, P. (2011). Présent, nation, mémoire. Paris: Gallimard.
Northern Ireland Office UK. (2014). The Stormont house agreement. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-stormont-house-agreement.
Novak, W. J. (2008). The myth of the “weak” American state. The American Historical Review, 113(3), 752–772.
Nye, J. S., & Keohane, R. O. (1971). Transnational relations and world politics: a conclusion. International Organization, 25(3), 721–748.
OFMDFM (2013). Together: Building a United Community Strategy, available at: https://www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/articles/together-building-united-community. Accessed 5 Jan 2016.
Orren, K., & Skowronek, S. (2017). The policy state. The American predicament. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
Polletta, F. (1998). Legacies and liabilities of an insurgent past: remembering Martin Luther King, Jr., on the house and senate floor. Social Science History, 22(4), 479–512.
Risse-Kappen, T. (Ed.). (1995). Bringing Transnational Relations Back In: Non-State Actors, Domestic Structures and International Institutions. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press.
Rothberg, M. (2009). Multidirectional memory. Remembering the holocaust in the age of decolonization. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Sims, L. J. (2016). Rethinking France's 'Memory Wars': Harki Collective Memories, 2003-2010. French Politics, Culture and Society, 34(3), 83–104.
Special EU Programmes Body (2013). Special EU Programmes Body: Mid-term Evaluative Study of the Experiences of the Peace III Programme to date Including Implications for a Peace IV Programme, available at http://www.seupb.eu/Libraries/PEACE_III_Reports_Pubs/PEACE_III_Mid-Term_Evaluative_Study.sflb.ashx. Accessed Jan 5 2016.
Stormont House Agreement (2015). Northern Ireland (Stormont House Agreement) Bill 2015, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/462888/Policy_Paper_-_Summary_of_Measures_23_Sept_2015_Final.pdf. Accessed 5 January 2016.
Tarrow, S. (2001). Transnational politics: contentions and institutions in international politics. Annual Review of Political Science, 4, 1–20.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. (2009). The Report of the Consultative Group on the Past in Northern Ireland: Second Report of Session 2009-10; Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence. London: HMSO.
Vertovec, S. (2009). Transnationalism. New York: Routledge.
Volker, D. (1987). Caring for clients in a changing environment: the department of Veterans’ Affairs. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 46(2), 192–203.
Weible, C. M., & Sabatier, P. A. (Eds.). (2017). Theories of the policy process (4th ed.). New York: Westview Press.
Wieviorka, A. (2006). The era of the witness. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Winter, J., & Sivan, E. (1999). War and remembrance in the twentieth century. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
Wüstenberg, J. (2017). Civil society and memory in postwar Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
McQuaid, S.D., Gensburger, S. Administrations of Memory: Transcending the Nation and Bringing back the State in Memory Studies. Int J Polit Cult Soc 32, 125–143 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10767-018-9300-3