nl en

Collective Memory: A Shared Historical Narrative in Reconciliation


Admission requirements

This course is part of the MA International Relations, track International Studies. Students of other MA-programmes who are interested in this course please contact the co-ordinator of studies.


In post-conflict situations, the processes of ‘righting’ historical wrongs and the restitution of grievances can function as both a point of connection and a point of contention in the emergence of a shared historical narrative. This course is aimed at identifying the ways in which demands for historical justice are framed and procedures for reconciliation function with regard to the construction of shared historical narratives. The course will answer such questions as: How does transitional justice function? When and how have demands for historical justice been addressed? How, and with what influences, does the pursuit of justice, in a variety of forms, impact the construction of shared narratives and collective memory?
The course will tackle these questions by examining the discourse of justice at the local level on a case-by-case basis through a series of comparative case studies. In each case, students will receive a lecture from an expert in the field and debate the broader concepts in a seminar following the lecture.

Course objectives

The primary goals of the course are to provide a solid grounding in the concept of historical justice, to examine the practical aspects of creating historical narratives, and to examine both the potential as well as the limitations of historical reconciliation in the broader context of peace-building and reconciliation processes.
Students are expected to question the relationship between the socio-historical process of justice and reconciliation and the representation of such processes in the construction of a shared narrative or memory of a particular conflict. The main goals of the course for students are to become familiar with how historical justice can function to both develop a historical narrative and to help or hinder the process of reconciliation, to delve into each post-conflict scenario and identify the different forms of historical narrative at work, to compare and contrast how the pursuit of historical justice works in different ways in different contexts and to identify the ways in which justice and reconciliation shapes discourses, historical narratives and collective memories.


Via the website.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars.

Course Load

  • 24 Hours of classes (Divided between lectures and seminars over 12 weeks – attendance is compulsory)

  • 120 hours or reading and class preparation (5 hours per week over 12 weeks)

  • 36 hours to prepare class presentation

  • 50 hours to complete first essay

  • 50 hours to complete second essay

Total: 280 Hours for 10 ECTS

Assessment method

Students are required to attend and participate actively in class, to complete two essays and to do a class presentation based on the second essay. The final grade is divided as follows:

  • participation (20%),

  • first essay (30%),

  • second essay (30%),

  • class presentation (20%).
    The participation grade depends on the careful reading of course texts, attendance, and the active involvement in class discussions. Students are expected to contribute on a regular basis to discussions and engage with the course texts.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit is only available to students whose mark of the final examined element is insufficient.


Yes, see Blackboard

Reading list

  • Abazović, Dino; Velikonja, Mitja (eds.) On and Beyond Post-Yugoslavia: New Cultural and Political Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan: London, New York, 2014.

  • Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised ed. Verso: London and New York, 1991.

  • Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: a report on the banality of evil. Penguin: USA, 2006.

  • Banac, Ivo. The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1984.

  • Barkan, Elazar. The Guilt of Nations: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 2001.

  • Gravilovic, Darko & Perica, Vjekoslav (eds.) Political myths In The Former Yugoslavia And Successor States. A Shared Narrative. Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation Series 1 Republic of Letters. Available free online on

  • Hazan, Pierre. Translated by Sarah Meyer de Stadelhofen. Judging War, Judging History: Behind Truth and Reconciliation. Stanford University Press: Stanford, 2010.

  • MacMillan, Margaret. The uses and abuses of History. Profile Books: London, 2009.

  • Manna, Adel & Motti, Golani. Two Sides of the Coin: Independence and Nakba 1948. Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation series 4 Republic of Letters. Available free online on

  • Minow, Martha. Between vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence. Beacon Press: Boston, 1998.

  • Todorova, Maria. Imagining the Balkans. Oxford University Press; New York, 1994.

  • Velikonja, Mitja. Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Eastern European Studies. Texas A&M University Press; College Station, 2003.


Via uSis.


Janneke Walstra