Defying Memory? Tracing the Power of Hegemonic Memory in Everyday Discourse Using the Example of National Socialism in Germany

Anke Fiedler


Even though history is commonly referred to as the battlefield of the present, certain narratives of memory usually dominate public commemoration (hegemonic memory), which are normatively binding and visible to all. How is the power of hegemonic memory determined? How is it reflected in those segments of the population who do not want to remember according to hegemonic readings (aversive memory)? Against the background of these questions, we conducted qualitative interviews and focus group discussions with 265 participants in Germany, to analyze how the population today integrates hegemonic memory about National Socialism into everyday discourse and what impact hegemonic memory has on those who do not want to be reminded of the nation’s past. The results show that all theoretical manifestations of everyday memory reflect hegemonic memory, even among respondents who reject the hegemonic memory paradigm. While the latter develop narratives of resistance, they are also aware of the consequences of defying hegemonic truths.


National Socialism, Holocaust, Third Reich, hegemonic memory, everyday memory, aversive memory, Germany

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