'Memory, History, and Justice: In search of conceptual clarity'

  • Robert Vosloo Stellenbosch University


How should we reconfigure the relationship between memory and history as two distinguishable yet interconnected epistemological routes to knowing the past? This article seeks some conceptual clarity on the intricate and complex interrelation between memory and history, also in conversation with some questions that arise from contexts associated with historical injustice. With this purpose in mind, the article engages especially the later work of the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur. Ricoeur’s response to the memory-history problem is not to view memory and history as adversaries, but to view them as conjoined and complementary as we grapple with the past and the temporality of our own lives. In light of this affirmation of the dialectical relationship between memory and history, the article further emphasises some aspects that are important to consider in the search for a responsible historical hermeneutic.