Memory, Identity and Political Communities – The Discursive Construction of the Transatlantic Alliance

Sarah Sporys


The transatlantic community has, from its inception, been described as a community of like-minded nations that is held together not only by interests but also by shared values. These are based on a common identity – of what Karl W. Deutsch has called a “we-feeling” (36). Memory is a binding factor for both national and international communities because it contributes to their self-understanding in the present and is indispensable for imagining a common future. Given this assumption, this paper uses theories of memory as an analytical tool for studying the transatlantic partnership. More specifically, this paper will introduce the term and concept of a “transatlantic memory community” which is developed from Maurice Halbwachs’s concept of collective memory. It is based on the idea that the members of the Atlantic Community have developed a shared understanding of the past due to their membership in this political and ideational community. The analysis of the historical framing of the Bosnian conflict in Germany, France and the United States (U.S.) will serve as an example of the development of mnemonical commonplaces in the Atlantic Alliance.


Memory; U.S.; Europe; Transatlantic Relations; Discourse; Community; Transatlantic Memory Community

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