Article Information

MASS MIGRATIONS AND HOST SOCIETIES’ HISTORICAL MEMORY TRANSFORMATION: A CASE OF GREAT BRITAIN

Denis Letnyakov (letnyakov@mail.ru)

Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)

Citation: Letnyakov D. Massovyye migratsii i transformatsiya istoricheskoy pamyati prinimayushchikh soobshchestv: sluchay Velikobritanii [Mass migrations and host societies’ historical memory transformation: a case of Great Britain]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 24(3): 86–109 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2021.24.3.5

Abstract. The “classical” type of a nation-state considered the common historical memory of its citizens as a foundation of national identity. Therefore, those versions of the past that conflicted with the dominant historical narrative were interpreted as undermining national unity. Analyzing the transformation of British Remembrance Culture since the 1960s, the author shows how far mass migrations have changed the identity of British society and its vision of its own past. From this point of view the article examines, firstly, shifts in the content of school curriculum — particularly the fact that the idea of diversity is gradually taking up more and more space in British education. Secondly, the subject being analyzed is the reversal of British museums’ concept (both local and national), as well as struggle for “decolonization” of public spaces, which became especially relevant during the the “Black Lives Matter” movement. By revealing inner conflicts in British Remembrance Culture, the article postulates that historical memory is not a holistic entity. In reality collective memory is a field of struggle between various ‘mnemotic actors’ and historical narratives. Therefore, inclusion of migrants and their descendants in the national community makes them fully legitimate participants of public discussions about the past. The pluralistic nature of historical memory is worth taking into consideration while analyzing memorial conflicts, elaborating the concept of historical education, organizing museums and exhibitions, choosing official holidays and memorable dates.

Keywords: historical memory, migration, nation-state, diversity, racism, memorial conflicts, politics of memory, Great Britain.

Acknowledgements 

The financial support of this article was provided by the grant of Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation (Grant Agreement no. 075-15-2020-908). I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Prof. V.S. Malakhov for reading the draft of this article and for his valuable comments that helped me to refine the text.

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