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POLISCI 235B: Political Memory and Democratic Citizenship (POLISCI 335B)

We may not always realize it, but political discussions often invoke historical memory. As we debate about political ideas and praxes, we often draw on history to criticize our interlocutors and build our arguments. Meanwhile, historical memory also deeply shapes how we think about politics. For example, our rejection of Nazism is closely linked to memories of the Holocaust. Our debates about racial politics in the US are inevitably intertwined with historical readings of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. New politics often offers new historical readings and counters mainstream, commonsensical understandings of the past.Because historical memory is so crucial to politics, and because what is considered collective memory often varies from community to community, it is essential that we try to understand the relationship between memory, politics, and citizenship. In this class, we read texts written by thinkers such as Hannah Arendt, W. James Booth, Avishai Margalit, John Rawls, and more »
We may not always realize it, but political discussions often invoke historical memory. As we debate about political ideas and praxes, we often draw on history to criticize our interlocutors and build our arguments. Meanwhile, historical memory also deeply shapes how we think about politics. For example, our rejection of Nazism is closely linked to memories of the Holocaust. Our debates about racial politics in the US are inevitably intertwined with historical readings of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. New politics often offers new historical readings and counters mainstream, commonsensical understandings of the past.Because historical memory is so crucial to politics, and because what is considered collective memory often varies from community to community, it is essential that we try to understand the relationship between memory, politics, and citizenship. In this class, we read texts written by thinkers such as Hannah Arendt, W. James Booth, Avishai Margalit, John Rawls, and Judith Shklar to discuss the following questions: How does memory form communal identity? How does memory shape our conception of justice, political agency, and legitimacy? Are there democratic ways of approaching history? Is remembering always good for democratic politics? As we come up with answers to these questions, we develop a better sense of how our identity as democratic citizens is linked to historical and collective memory.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3-5
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