In the most recent issue of World Policy Journal, “History’s Ghosts,” contributors grapple with attempts by various governments to mobilize history to serve their own authority and erase the blemishes of history by writing over them. “The past always haunts the present, but most political science fails to acknowledge, let alone describe, the influence of history’s ghosts,” editor Christopher Shay argues.
Topics in this issue include using Sanskrit to advance a Hindu supremacist agenda in India, using a rhetoric of peace to justify aggression and imperialism in Japan, removing the Oromo and other minority groups from the Battle of Adwa in Ethiopian history and national storylines, and how the Chinese Communist Party compelled a country to forget Tiananmen Square in 1989.
“Our writers remind us that simply remembering history is not enough. Many people recall their trauma and then inflict the same suffering on others. A worthwhile project of remembering, [Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh] Nguyen says, ‘has to get us to figure out a way to prevent that suffering from happening again,'” Shay concludes.
To learn more, read “The Big Question: What Lessons from History Keep Being Forgotten?,” made freely available.