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During recent decades the way that societies deal with their past has been a topic of constant and intensive debate amongst scholars, lawyers, politicians and ordinary people. Legal Institutions and Collective Memories situates the processes of transitional justice at the intersection between legal procedures and the production of collective and shared meaning of the past. Owing its basic framework to Maurice Halbwachs, this collection of essays emphasises the extended role and active involvement of contemporary law and legal institutions in public discourse about the past, and explores their impact on the shape that collective memories take in the course of time. The authors uncover a complex pattern emerging from the search for truth, negotiations of the past and the art of forgetting, and demonstrate the ambiguous and intricate links between the production of justice, truth and memory.
The essays cover a broad range of legal institutions, countries and topics, including transitional trials as “monumental spectacles”, the restitution of property rights in Central and Eastern Europe and Australia, the repression and regaining of individual and collective memories of Korean comfort Women, the shaping of biographies through processes of lustration, and emergent public opinion on truth about the past and reconciliation in the future in South Africa. They explore the role of law and legal institutions in linking individual and collective memories. As a result, the collection offers a genuinely comparative approach.