CFP : Textes et Contextes (English version)

Call for Papers for issue 9/2014 of the journal Textes & Contextes

“Time Heals All Wounds : Resisting the Authority of History in the Concepts of Nation and Nationalism”

Under the direction of Mark Niemeyer, Professeur at the University of Burgundy (Dijon, France)

Near the end of his now classic study, Imagined Communities : Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Benedict Anderson suggests that one powerful mechanism in the construction of national unity is a tendency to resist the authority of the past and to forget—or rather to simultaneously remember and forget—former divisive conflicts between often bitterly opposed groups and to recast these conflicts as internal disputes or “family feuds” that become inscribed as part of the national heritage or “family history,” often flying in the face of the facts of history to do so. He cites Ernest Renan’s mention in his lecture “Qu’est qu’une nation” of the Saint Bartholomew Day’s massacre of 1572 and the Albigensian Crusade of the early thirteenth century as archetypical French examples of this phenomenon. In both cases, Anderson notes, bloody conflicts were rewritten as “reassuringly fratricidal wars between—who else ?—fellow Frenchmen.” Other examples offered by Anderson include the Norman Conquest of England (in which an invading foreigner, William the Conqueror, is transformed into a sort of “Founding Father” of England) and the American Civil War (in which the bloodiest conflict in the history of the United States is represented as a “civil” war between “brothers”). In the twentieth century, he suggests, similar processes of rewriting history can be seen in the “national” presentations of the Spanish Civil War and the Russian Civil War.

In part through an examination, exploration and (re)evaluation of Anderson’s concept of the “reassurance of fratricide,” this issue of the journal Textes et Contextes will focus on the tendency in all types of national and nationalistic discourse to resist the authority of history. Questions that can be explored include : How, specifically, does this process function, either in the examples provided by Anderson or in other cases of similar rewritings of conflictual “national” episodes ? What mechanisms enable a nation to challenge the history of previous differences, rivalries, hatreds, betrayals or wars and transform them into simultaneously forgotten/remembered disputes among members of the same national “family” ? How much time must pass before such a process is possible ? Furthermore, can such a transformation of earlier conflicts always be effected, or are some national “wounds” simply incapable of being healed—is it sometimes, in fact, simply impossible to resist the authority of the facts of the past ?

Articles in the areas of history, literature, education, political science or other disciplines should focus on some aspect of the concepts of the “reassurance of fratricide” and the resisting of the authority of history as it is used to help strengthen national unity and mold national identity in order to create an, apparently, harmonious national narrative, or, on the contrary, as it seems to present an unrealizable (and unrealistic ?) goal of transforming conflict into an image of a nation’s common and cherished past.

One-page proposals in English or French should be sent by 15 December 2013. (Articles may be written in any one of the languages of the Interlangues research group : English, German, Italian or Spanish.)

Calendar :

15.12.2013 : deadline for one-page proposals with titles
15.01.2014 : notification of acceptance of proposals
15.04.2014 : deadline for submission of articles
15.07.2014 : notification of acceptance of articles
15.09.2014 : deadline for return of revised articles

Proposals should be sent to :