The recent phenomenon of the "juridification" of history (both as a reparation of historical injustices and as a rule prescribing what a society has to think about the past) is evident as much as puzzling. The author proposes a reflection about it based on the historian’s tools. He examines its origins, its evolution, its outburst in the last twenty years, and the clear-cut split between the "privatization" of controversies in North America and European regulatory interventions dictating models of dealing with the past. The discussion all this engendered among legal experts and among historians themselves shows that we are in front of a complicated matter, in which both a new awareness for protecting social rights and the resurgence, in new forms, of political ideologies are evident. The author highlights the dangers of the recent assaults of memory against historical knowledge, but he is not convinced of a basic contrast between the two and insists instead on the fact that the juridification of history is a manifestation of the present crisis of the historian’s social role.
Keywords: Law and history, history and memory, historian’s social role, Holocaust denial, memorial laws, historical injustices