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The politics of memory A philosophical investigation

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Description: In this dissertation the ethical and political aspects and implications of the role of memory in the formation and maintenance of individual and communal identity are examined. To understand the use and abuse of memory in the construction of identity is to be in a position to encourage the development of viable senses of citizenship and "peoplehood" within pluralist, democratic society. The investigation draws upon Paul Ricoeur's narrative and ethical-political hermeneutics of the summoned subject to explore the role of memory in identity formation. To attempt to control the ineradicable possibility of abuse of memory in individual and group identity formation I argue for the need to attend to what Johann Baptist Metz, after Walter Benjamin and Herbert Marcuse, called "dangerous memories," the memories of failed and repressed hopes and dreams as well as of the suffering of others. In the investigation I draw on insights in the work of American political theorists, such as those of Ian Shapiro and Rogers Smith, but I seek to champion, supplement, and critique these resources with, in particular, the work of the critical theory-informed political theologian Johann Baptist Metz and the French post-structuralist deconstructionist Jacques Derrida.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work