Painful Collective Memory: Measuring Collective Memory Affect in the Karabakh Conflict

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Abstract

This article argues that collective memory can contribute to both instigating and reducing interethnic conflicts. Herein, collective memory is understood as kind of extended or distributed memory and as the outcome of group debates and contestations, mediated by cultural tools in form of narratives. On a psychological level it involves the triggering of specific emotions. This assumption was tested in a series of experimental studies examining the interplay of different narratives, emotions, and attitudes among the Azerbaijani population. The results suggest that particular kinds of collective memory which are shaped by social context of the protracted ethnonational conflict can even exceed individual memory in yielding strong emotions among individuals even in those who do not have painful individual memories about the conflict. In this way, the article contributes to current debates on the relationship between memory, conflict resolution, and emotions.

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