Skip to content

Can the Past Be Repaired? Divided Narratives and National Solidarity

Aleida Assmann

Pages 539 - 554



This publication is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0.

Creative Commons License

Nations are torn apart today not only through material and social inequality or identity politics but also through contrasting and conflicting narratives of the past that coexist independently in the same territory. In order to overcome the division and fragmentation in a society, to mobilize civic strength for common projects, and thus create solidarity among diverse social groups, it is important to address the divided past and to bring conflicting narratives into a mutually acknowledged relationship.

Key Words: polarization; conflict; narratives; identities; memory cultures; solidarity;

1 Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1983. Print.

2 Baldwin, James. “White Man’s Guilt.” Collected Essays. Ed. James Baldwin. New York: Library of America, 1998. 713-27. Print.

3 Benjamin, Walter. “On the Concept of History.” 1940. Simon Fraser University, n. d. Web, 14 Sept. 2023.

4 Biden, Joe. “President Biden Remarks on 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.” C-Span. National Cable Satellite Corporation, 1 June 2021. Web. 2 Sept. 2022.

5 Blight, David W. “Europe in 1989, America in 2020, and the Death of the Lost Cause.” The New Yorker. Condé Nast, 1 July 2020. Web. 27 June 2023.

6 “Cultural Narratives: What Is a Foundational Narrative?” Abensour & Partners, 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2023.

7 Faulkner, William. Requiem for a Nun. New York: Signet, 1951. Print.

8 Fiedler, Leslie. “Cross the Border, Close the Gap.” Wege aus der Moderne: Schlüsseltexte der Postmoderne-Diskussion. Ed. Wolfgang Welsch. Weinheim: Wiley, 1988. 57-74. Print.

9 Flieger, Estera. “The Populist Rewriting of Polish History Is a Warning to Us All.” The Guardian. Guardian Media Group, 17 Sept. 2019. Web. 14 Sept. 2023.

10 Fuisz, Lisbeth. “‘We the People’: The U.S. Government’s Recent Recruitment of Literature for Nation Building.” Moment to Monument: The Making and Unmaking of Cultural Significance. Ed. Bezzola Lambert et al. Bielefeld: transcript, 2009. 111-22. Print.

11 Fukuyama, Francis. Identity: Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition. London: Profile, 2018. Print.

12 Gorman, Amanda. The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country. New York: Random House, 2021. Print.

13 Hiergeist, Teresa et al., eds. Paragesellschaften: Imaginationen—Inszenierungen—Interaktionen in den Gegenwartskulturen. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021. Print.

14 Kelly, Lidia. “Five Arrested as Australia Protests Draw Thousands.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters Corporation, 26 Jan. 2021. Web. 14 Sept. 2023.

15 Lamont, Michèle. “Culture Shift: Q&A with Sociologist Michèle Lamont.” Cifar. Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. 17 June 2020. Web. 14 Sept. 2023.

16 Lepore, Jill. These Truths: A History of the United States. New York: Norton, 2018. Print.

17 Mbembe, Achille. “(Re-)Construction of the World—Aid, Solidarity, Politics.” Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. Online Conference, 14 Feb. 2021. Web. 26 June 2023.

18 Muhammad, Khalil Gibran. The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2019. Print.

19 ---. “Khalil Muhammad: COVID-19, Racial Inequities and the Fragile State of American Democracy.” YouTube, uploaded by NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, 18 June 2020. Web. 27 June 2023.

20 Neiman, Susan. Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil. New York: Macmillan, 2019. Print.

21 Nietzsche, Friedrich. “Beyond Good and Evil, Part IV, Aphorism # 68.” Werke in drei Bänden. Ed. Karl Schlechta. München: Hanser, 1954. 626. Print.

22 Obama, Barack. “Obama’s 2008 Election Victory Speech.” CNN Politics. Cable News Network, 10 Nov. 2017. Web. 14 Sept. 2023.

23 aul, Heike. Amerikanischer Staatsbürgersentimentalismus: Zur Lage der politischen Kultur der USA. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2021. Print.

24 Payne, Michael, ed. The Greenblatt Reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005. Baixardoc. Web. 28 July 2023.

25 PBS News Hour. “What Trump Is Saying about 1619 Project, Teaching U.S. History.” Public Broadcasting Service, 17 Sept. 2020. Web. 6 Oct. 2023.

26 Rifkin, Jeremy. The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis. New York: Penguin, 2009. Print.

27 Stevenson, Bryan. “Equal Justice Initiative Announces Expanded Legacy Museum in Alabama.” Alaska’s News Source. 30 Sept. 2021. Web. 2 Sept. 2022.

28 “The 1619 Landing—Virginia’s First Africans Report & FAQs.” Hampton History Museum. 17 Mar. 2021. Web. 2 Sept. 2022.


Export Citation