The yearning for historical justice has become a defining feature of our age. The article discusses the extent and manifestations of this yearning for the redress of the wrongs of the past. It notes that, paradoxically, historians have not had a major influence on debates about historical justice. Referring to the seven other contributions to this themed issue of Rethinking History, the article suggests that historians have, however, made contributions in five crucial respects. They have provided critical analyses of processes of memorialising and historicising historic wrongs, highlighted silences and absences in representations of past injustices, drawn attention to pasts that have been largely forgotten, engaged with seemingly unbidden intrusions of the past into the present and identified and analysed the motives and desires of individual actors. Sketching promising future directions for relevant historical scholarship, the article proposes that historians problematise the idea that all historic wrongs need to be remembered comprehensively, and that historians reflect on the particular responsibilities and obligations of their discipline. Finally, this introduction suggests that practitioners of a critical history be cognisant of their emotional investment when writing about historic wrongs and historical justice.
Field of Research
210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified 2103 Historical Studies
Socio Economic Objective
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
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