Hidden Narratives and War

  • Ulla-Maija Peltonen, PhD, Docent Finnish Literature Society
Keywords: forgetting, knowledge, hidden narratives, keeping silent, oral history, remembering, civil war


How do individuals and states recover from societal conflicts? The solutions are many. In some countries the past is simply forgotten and the people are encouraged to block out some of their national memories. Yet there is a problem: victims do not forget because they cannot forget. In many cases the post-war follow-up has been overtly connected to political, military and economic interests. Coping with war and societal conflicts involves two kinds of risks vis-á-vis the past: excessive remembering or utter oblivion. The events are too painful to remember and too hard to forget. Nevertheless, it is absolutely necessary to take the violence beyond the level of the individual and into the realm of a legal hearing for the sake of truth, justice and accountability. In addition to accountability from a legal perspective, some researchers have stressed the significance of moral responsibility. (Minow 1998, 10-13.) All wars and their consequences produce contested memorial grounds. The post-war struggles to hold on to memories are made concrete in various memorial publications, celebrations, statues and plaques.

Dec 31, 2006
How to Cite
Peltonen, U.-M. (2006). Hidden Narratives and War. Ethnologia Fennica, 33, 6-14. Retrieved from https://journal.fi/ethnolfenn/article/view/66224