From collective memory to commemoration

Authored by: Hiro Saito

Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  September  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415474450
eBook ISBN: 9780203891377
Adobe ISBN: 9781134026159

10.4324/9780203891377.ch60

 Download Chapter

 

Abstract

To have “memory” of an event, humans have to experience it themselves. Learning of an event secondhand, humans acquire knowledge, but not memory. Yet, when sociologists speak of “collective memory,” they routinely include as agents of memory those who do not have firsthand experience of a past event. This inclusion has been taken for granted ever since Maurice Halbwachs (1992) formulated his Durkheimian theory of the relationship between collective memory and commemoration in terms of group solidarity and identity: collective memory emerges when those without firsthand experience of an event identify with those who have such experience, defining both sets of actors as sharing membership in the same social group. The creation of this affect-laden, first-person orientation to a past event is at the crux of commemoration—simply put, a ritual that transforms “historical knowledge” into “collective memory” consisting of mnemonic schemas and objects that define the meaning of a past event as a locus of collective identity. According to Halbwachs’s formulation, commemoration is a vehicle of collective memory.

 Cite
Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.