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Sandra Obradovic: Past, Present and Future: How We Use History to Make Sense of Politics

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This talk was recorded and presented for the launch of the OPRC, Opening Psychology for Changing Times in Summer 2021.

References to history seem to become more and more commonplace within political rhetoric. Golden eras, better days and the romanticization of history sits uncomfortably with the rising criticism of how historical figures, statues, street names and commemorations paint a particular version of history that disregards the negative acts and events of ‘our’ country. Both of these trends point to a broader phenomenon, that how we think about history, and how we use history in the present, is an active process that is equally informed by selective remembering and forgetting. Drawing on data from Serbia, the UK and the US, I will argue for how the politicization of history offers one avenue through which we can examine how group identities, boundaries and their relationships become manifest.

Key Readings:

Wohl, M. J., Stefaniak, A., & Smeekes, A. (2020). Days of future past: Concerns for the group’s future prompt longing for its past (and ways to reclaim it). Current Directions in Psychological Science, 29(5), 481-486.

Obradović, S. (2016). Don’t Forget to Remember: Collective Memory of the Yugoslav Wars in Present-Day Serbia. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 22(1), pp.12-18.