Andreas Huyssen observed in 2000 that ‘one of the most surprising cultural and political phenomena of recent years has been the emergence of memory as a key concern in Western societies’.1 Surprising, because, as Huyssen argues, the turn to what he calls ‘present pasts’ — those pasts that are kept alive in the present through memorial practices, of which Holocaust memory is the pre-eminent example — is not only at odds with twentieth-century modernity’s privileging of ‘present futures’ but also strongly opposed to ‘the categories of space, maps, geographies, borders, trade routes, migrations, displacements, and diasporas [that are privileged] in […] postcolonial and cultural studies’.2 Seeking to account for the remarkable rise of memory culture since the 1980s, Huyssen locates it in a variety of historical phenomena, including ‘the broadening debate about the Holocaust, […] genocidal politics in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo’, national memories, consumer culture, archival technologies, ‘our deep anxiety about the speed of change and the ever shrinking horizons of time and space’, and the deployment of memory as a synonym for justice.3 Concomitantly, over the past thirty or so years, there has been a spate of books and articles on memory and memory practices in the Middle Ages, by scholars of very different stripes.
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