Consigning to History

Philosophers' Imprint (forthcoming)
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How might a society wrong people by the way in which it remembers its past? In recent years, philosophers have articulated serval ways in which people may be wronged by dominant historical narratives. My focus will be on a way in which we may wrong people which has yet to feature in this discussion: the consigning of people to history. This paper investigates the wrongs involved in collective narratives that consign certain identities to a country’s past but not its present or future. I will argue that these narratives can wrong people by exiling them from the imagined community, which in turn leads to several other significant harms. I will begin by examining this phenomenon before going on to articulate the distinctive wrongs and harms involved in consigning to history. I then argue that people have a prima facie duty not to develop or employ national narratives that consign people to history and a responsibility to challenge and resist the use of such narratives. This responsibility will be especially strong for powerful and privileged people, for people with a special interest in resisting such narratives and for those able to draw on the resources of existing collectives.

Author's Profile

Alfred Archer
Tilburg University


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