Thursday, 4 December 2008

Chris Patten on History & Identity

by Derry Nairn

Former Governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten wrote a thought-provoking piece in the Lebanese Daily Star yesterday about the connections between history, collective memory and national identity:
A little more sharp-eyed honesty about Britain's real weight in the post-war world might have enabled us British to play a more central role in Europe's affairs, molding the emerging European Union more closely to our own national interests...

...Russia stumbles over Stalin and his legacy of evil. China turns away from a reappraisal of Mao or an honest account of what happened at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Some Japanese still want to write or believe fairy tales about their pre-war and wartime history, which has hugely complicated Japan's efforts to find a confident and lasting reconciliation with China.
Read the full article here.

Or read David Lowenthal considering how self-image affects nations' history-writing and identities, in Distorted Mirrors, from our archive.

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