Memory Practices and Theory in a Global Age

Authored by: Daniel Levy

Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory

Print publication date:  March  2011
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415548250
eBook ISBN: 9780203875575
Adobe ISBN: 9781135997946

10.4324/9780203875575.ch41

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Abstract

Collective memory has become an ubiquitous term dominating the public and scholarly imagination since the late 1980s. True to its multidisciplinary character there has been little agreement on a concise definition (Olick and Robbins 1998). Nevertheless, much of the literature draws on the works of Maurice Halbwachs, for whom memories are not simply mediated but structured by social arrangements and constituted in social frameworks. ‘It is in society that people normally acquire their memories. It is also in society that they recall, recognize, and localize their memories’ (Halbwachs 1992: 38). Studying and theorizing memory is thus not a matter of exploring the subjective mind or its neurological functions but of identifying shifting social frames within which memories are embedded. The forms memories take thus vary according to social organization, and the groups to which individuals belongs.

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