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Volume 22, Issue 4 (Oct 2012)


When ownership hurts: Remembering the in-group wrongdoings after a long lasting collective amnesia

Giovanna Leone
  • Department of Communication and Social Research Sapienza, University of Rome, via Salaria 113, Rome, 00198, Italy
  • Email:
/ Mauro Sarrica
  • Department of Communication and Social Research Sapienza, University of Rome, via Salaria 113, Rome, 00198, Italy
  • Email:
Published Online: 2012-09-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s13374-012-0048-6


This study explores the effects of two different kinds of text addressed to young Italian students, which convey past in-group war-crimes either in a detailed or in an evasive way. After completing a first questionnaire (and confirming the social amnesia on these crimes) a sample of Italian university students (number: 103; average age: 21.79) read two versions (factual vs. evasive) of a same historical text on Italian invasion of Ethiopia (1935–36). The results show that participants reading a detailed text feel react more emotionally and feel more involved. However, the more negative reactions linked to the detailed text were also associated to a stronger will to repair intergroup relations with the descendents of ancient victims of the in-group crimes. Positive consequences of negative emotions linked to detailed text that challenge a widespread collective amnesia of war crimes are discussed.

Keywords: collective amnesia; historical narratives; war crimes; colonialism

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About the article

Published Online: 2012-09-29

Published in Print: 2012-10-01

Citation Information: Human Affairs, ISSN (Online) 1337-401X, ISSN (Print) 1210-3055, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s13374-012-0048-6. Export Citation

© 2012 Institute for Research in Social Communication, Slovak Academy of Sciences. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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