Juggling Identities: Identification, Collective Memory and practices of Self-Presentation in the UNGD

While identity is a core concept in constructivist IR theory, the notion of collective memory has yet to fully integrate as a framework for explaining international relations. Collective memory plays a vital role in constructing, reproducing, and contesting political identities. Through commemorative practices, rituals of remembrance, and the active work of various agents of memory, the past can be used to explain and justify the present. In this paper, we argue that since states hold and navigate between multiple identities, they also present and navigate between multiple sources of collective memory. We explore how different states present variance in their identity combination by analyzing how heads of state in Israel, Germany, and the United States use historical events and memories in more than 25 years of speeches delivered during the UNGA sessions (1991-2018). Building on memory studies, we consider the appearance and performance of four elements of collective memory: national, regional, international, and global. Analysis demonstrates how narratives of self are transformed and re-adjusted according to context, underlining the dynamic process of selectivity in the creation and preservation of identity.

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