World Culture in European Memory Politics? New European Memory Agents Between Epistemic Framing and Political Agenda Setting

In this contribution, we focus on the efforts dedicated to creating a ‘European’ memory culture, particularly since EU enlargement in 2004. Based upon analytical premises of neo-institutionalist world society studies, we interpret memory politics as a project that is not only driven forward by political movements and policy-makers, but also by quasi-neutral epistemic agents of memory deliberately pursuing knowledge-based strategies of agenda setting. This has been an important dimension of memory politics in former debates, especially in debates over Holocaust memory. It is central as well in current discourses over memory in an enlarged European Union. Accordingly, we shed light on the activities of two new Central and Eastern European network organizations—the Platform of European Memory and Conscience and the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity—and their efforts of gaining legitimacy in European memory debates. By analysing their activities and rhetoric, we show that they use expert-oriented practices of epistemic framing in order to break up the Western European consensus over Holocaust memory towards broader ‘anti-totalitarian’ conceptions of European history. However, a comparison of both actors reveals important differences in their strategies oscillating between mere political agenda setting and scientific reflection.

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