Laws regulating historical discourse, or "memory laws," recognize past injustices, and, as in the case of legislation regarding the Holocaust, may punish denial. They also reflect the geopolitical interests of states or supranational institutions, especially in contested histories, such as the Ottoman Empire's persecution of Armenian subjects during the First World War. Scholarship on such legislation examines its ethical legitimacy and political impact, debating its effect on free speech and democratic governance. This discourse considers whether memory laws should ever be adopted, whether they actually achieve their goals, and the extent to which they reinforce realpolitik in governing institutions. This article reveals a hitherto little-discussed dimension of laws regulating historical discourse: performativity. Laws have performative effects in the form of meanings, intentions, and interpretations that go beyond the letter of the law. By focusing on Armenian Genocide recognition in France and Germany, this article elucidates the performative aspects of memory laws, revealing thereby underlying ideological biases and political agendas.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 253-273
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.