COLLECTIVE MEMORY IN ETHNOPOLITICAL CONFLICTS: THE CASE OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH

Rauf GARAGOZOV


Rauf Garagozov, Ph.D. (Psych.), leading research fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies of the Caucasus (Baku, Azerbaijan)


There is a general agreement among those who study ethnic conflicts that collective memory may fan them, quench violence, or even prevent such conflicts, but it rarely becomes a subject of political studies. Strange as it may seem collective memory and its role in creating or settling ethnopolitical conflicts attract even less attention.

It seems that the concept is too vague and multifaceted to serve as an analytical category. Collective memory frequently includes such notions as bad histories of the groups involved, historical myths, ancient hatreds, or is identified as the aggregate of individual memories. The absence of clear-cut differentiations is probably responsible for the researchers excessively cautious treatment of collective memory issues. Naturally enough the researchers want to avoid any accusations of abusing the old ethnic hatreds thesis. We all know that public opinion is prone to use it to explain ethnic conflicts, while experts invariably criticize this approach.

Those who study ethnic conflicts often point out that it is wrong to explain conflicts by ancient hatred between the.


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