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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Philosopher George Santayana is probably best known today for his aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Variations of this quote appear frequently when countries, ethnic groups, or individuals engage in conflicts over economic, legal, or territorial issues. The version of history provided by one's own side is depicted as a true account of the past, whereas contrasting versions provided by one's opponents are deemed to be lies. In the current chapter, we examine bases of conflicting narratives of the past. We document how individual- and group-level factors (e.g., needs, goals, motives) shape historical memories, and how historical memories exacerbate conflict. In the final section of the chapter, we consider how historical memories can be used to promote reconciliation rather than conflict.

Keywords: Intergroup conflict, historical memories, historical injustices, harm-doing, victimization, apologies, reconciliation

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