Over the past decades, European memory cultures have become increasingly oriented towards the experiences of historical victims, improving their position in contemporary societies, whilst facilitating the decline of heroic, triumphalist and apologetic accounts of the past. Particularly the transnationalisation of Holocaust memory, approaches to transitional justice in conflict-affected societies as well as related human rights discourse have been informing victim imaginaries and narratives of victimisation in contemporary representations of the past.
In this context, my PhD project explores how such changes in hegemonic memory cultures have been experienced by those who identify, or used to identify, with the previous cultural hegemony. I am interested in the ways in which they compose memories of the past and position themselves in relation to the newly hegemonic memory frames and the respective narratives of victimisation advanced by them. Additionally, I am also interested in how the general shift in memory culture and their personal positioning in relation to it affects their relationship with political parties and cultural organisations.
To study the impact of memory change, my project analyses historical developments in Austrian and Northern Irish memory cultures as case studies. In both regions, cultural and political changes over the past decades have facilitated a transformation of official memory culture, under the influence of similar transnational shifts, Austria being more closely informed by the mainstreaming of a transnational Holocaust memory and Northern Ireland by approaches to transitional justice. I use oral history interviews with individuals who at some point sympathised with right-conservative (Austria) or loyalist (Northern Ireland) memory cultures to explore personal experiences of such mnemonic change to establish how these shifts in transnational memory frameworks have been perceived on a local level.
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