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Coming to Terms with a Dark Past

Ahonen, Sirkka

Coming to Terms with a Dark Past

How Post-Conflict Societies Deal with History

Year of Publication: 2012

Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2012. 181 p.
ISBN 978-3-631-63902-3 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.250 kg, 0.551 lbs

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Book synopsis

Finland, South Africa and Bosnia-Herzegovina are each burdened by memories of a civil war, between either social classes, racial groups or ethnic communities. History wars have followed the conflicts and been fought on the arenas of popular rhetoric, public memory, that is, monuments, museums and commemoration rituals, and history education. This book studies how the parties to these conflicts have attributed guilt to «the others» and victimhood to «us» in each country, and compares their respective memory politics and education strategies. The author draws on the potential on «history from below» activities and multiperspectival history lessons.


Contents: Post-conflict society – The burden of the past – Historical justice – Myths of guilt and victimization – Social memory – Transformation of public memory and history education – «History from below» – Multiperspectivality – International co-operation.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Sirkka Ahonen is Professor Emerita of History and Social Science Education at the University of Helsinki. She has published several books on post-communist history curricula in eastern Europe, on the formation of historical identity among young adults in Finland and the role of schooling in the making of a civic society in northern Europe.