“Making Politics History: The Legal Governance of Memory and Democratic Backsliding in Europe”.

In recent years, a number of countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have issued controversial memory laws and judgements featuring nationalistic historical narratives and putting democratic standards under pressure. This signals a broader shift towards anti-liberal discourse, hate speech, the rise of far-right and populist movements and a greater interference with academic freedom. The recent memory politics in CEE and beyond has largely been driven by dystopian visions of the past, which memory laws have been certifying as legitimate and obligatory for social reproduction through school curricula, street renaming, monuments, commemoration dates and criminal sanctions against denialist and revisionist accounts. On their surface, these visions are compatible with democracy and seek to build the idealized – utopian – present and future. However, in portraying the past as exclusively dystopian, the risk of undermining democracy increases.