Mgr Emilia Kowalewska
Polish Academy of Sciences
English abstract: This article offers a socio-legal reflection on the relation between law, state obligation, and attempts to institutionalize collective memory. As the question of memory institutionalization becomes most pertinent in the context of regime change that imposes on an incumbent government certain expectations for addressing the past, the article considers this research problem from the perspective of transitional justice theory. The transitional justice paradigm allows for an interdisciplinary consideration of the topic. Special attention is paid to legal norms and mechanisms directed towards establishing authoritative knowledge about the past. The emerging principle of the right to truth is presented as an integrating and rights-based perspective from which to approach societal demands for acknowledging injustices of the past. Measured against the fundamental rights that lie at the heart of transitional justice theory, three types of truth revelation procedures are presented. The article shows that the relationship between law and memory – which is often reduced to one of political instrumentalization – should, in accordance with the values of a liberal democracy, be reframed from the perspective of individual and collective rights. The article seeks to contribute to the field of memory studies in the social sciences by exposing functions of legal norms and mechanisms that are often overlooked when discussed from the perspective of the politics of memory.
Keywords: collective memory, truth revelation procedures, transitional justice, right to truth, politics of memory, post-communist Poland
Published: Number 3(21)/2019, pp. 51-66.
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