Memory Laws in European and Comparative Perspective (MELA)

Sep 1, 2016 - Aug 31, 2019

Project description

Memory laws affect us in various and often controversial ways. They sometimes impose criminal penalties on speech or conduct deemed offensive to the plight of national heroes or tragic victims. In that punitive form, memory laws impose limits on democratic freedoms of expression, association, the media, or on scholarly research. Yet memory laws reach beyond the bounds of criminal law. Children everywhere grow up reading state-approved texts designed to impart not merely a knowledge, but an interpretation of history. Governments everywhere designate national memorial ceremonies or authorise the construction of public monuments. The line between punitive and non-punitive laws indeed remains far from clear. Decisions, for example, about the content of school texts ordinarily fall outside the criminal law, but, in many countries, instructors dissenting from a prescribed view of the past may find themselves dismissed or disciplined.

The three-year research project ‘Memory Laws in European and Comparative Perspectives (MELA)’ examines memory laws throughout Europe and the world. The research is conducted by the T.M.C. Asser Instituut in cooperation with consortium partners in Queen Mary University of London (project leader), the University of Bologna and the Polish Academy of Sciences. The project started in September 2016 and is organised with the financial support of a grant from HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area).

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