EU476      Half Unit
Emotions and Memory in European Politics

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Yaprak Gürsoy


This course is available on the MA in Modern History, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in European and International Public Policy, MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Bocconi), MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Fudan) , MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). In previous years we have been able to provide places for all students that apply but that may not continue to be the case.

Course content

Political and social actors frequently mobilize the memory of glorifying or traumatic events to make claims about the present. All socio-political groups have memories. Some of these memories make them proud while others they remember as humiliating or shameful. What are the different registers in which memory is considered to operate (e.g., personal, collective, social, cultural, top-down, bottom-up)? What is the relationship between memories and collective emotions? How do these collective emotions impact world politics? This course seeks answers to these questions and discusses the linkages between collective identities, emotions and memories by examining the memorialisation of traumatic events, such as wars, ethnic conflict and terrorist attacks in Europe and beyond.

The cases the course will consider include (but not limited to) the following:

  1. The memorialisation of the World Wars, in particular, the First World War in the UK and Turkey, as well as the Holocaust and the Second World War in Germany and wider Europe,
  2. Memories and emotions surrounding ethnic tensions in Europe’s regional conflicts, in particular the violent breakup of Yugoslavia and hostilities in the Eastern Mediterranean, involving Greece, Turkey and Cyprus,
  3. Emotional responses to and memorialisation of the September 11 attacks in the USA and its European allies, and in comparison to reactions in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings in 2004.

Through an overview of these cases, the course will demonstrate the theoretical significance of memories and emotions in constituting collective identities and how they impact international relations and European foreign policy. The cases will also shed light on methodological questions and alternative approaches to the study of emotions and memory in politics. Students will be given the opportunity to investigate these or other cases from Europe in more depth through their formative and summative coursework.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 25 hours across Autumn Term. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Autumn Term.

Formative coursework

• Oral presentation in AT

• Short essay (2000 words)

Students will receive guidance and feedback on their formative coursework in preparation for their summative submission.  

Indicative reading

In addition to weekly readings, the following sources are likely to enhance the benefits derived from the course:

  • Sara Ahmed, Cultural Politics of Emotion, 2004;
  • Jenny Edkins, Trauma and the Memory of Politics, 2003;
  • Paul Gilroy, Postcolonial Melancholia, 2006;
  • Emma Hutchison, Affective Communities in World Politics: Collective Emotions after Trauma, 2016;
  • Andrew A. G. Ross, Mixed Emotions: Beyond Fear and Hatred in International Conflict, 2014;
  • Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization, 2009.


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the period between AT and WT.

Students will conduct independent research and write an essay on a topic they choose in consultation with the instructor. 

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2022/23: 32

Average class size 2022/23: 16

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication