And What If There Were A Duty To Forget?

Wed, 2018-02-21 17:00 - 19:00

A lecture by David Rieff, writer, journalist and PSIA faculty member. 


And What If There Were A Duty To Forget?


With David Rieff, writer, journalist and PSIA faculty member
Chaired by Enrico Letta, Dean of PSIA

Wednesday 21 February 2018  ■  5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Amphitheater Chapsal, 27 rue Saint-Guillaume, Paris

Open to Sciences Po students and faculty. Sciences Po ID card required.

« Today, the duty to remember the past and commemorate is considered a quasi-sacred obligation for any decent society and any decent person of conscience. Not to remember, it is commonly argued, is to betray the victims of past horrors and comfort their victimizers. It is also assumed, in George Santayana’s celebrated phrase, that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. But is this right? Are there not times when the only way to break the cycle of hatred and resentment created in the past is to forget it, or, even if it cannot be forgotten publicly, to remain silent about it publicly? If the answer to these questions is even a qualified yes, then commemoration and collective memory need to be thought about very differently. »

David Rieff is an independent writer and a distinguished journalist. He is the author of many books, including The Reproach of Hunger: Food, Justice, and Money in the 21st Century (Simon and Schuster, 2015). He has published numerous articles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, El Pais and many others. He has taught at PSIA on “The General Crisis of the International System” and “An End To Extreme Poverty And Hunger? The Development Establishment And Its Critics.” This lecture is presented on the occasion of the publication of his latest book In Praise of Forgetting, Historical Memory and Its Ironies (Yale University Press).

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