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Cultural memory

Because memory is not just an individual, private experience but is also part of the collective domain, cultural memory has become a topic in both historiography (Pierre Nora, Richard Terdiman) and cultural studies (e.g., Susan Stewart). These emphasize cultural memory’s process (historiography) and its implications and objects (cultural studies), respectively. Two schools of thought have emerged, one articulates that the present shapes our understanding of the past. The other assumes that the past has an influence on our present behavior.

Crucial in understanding cultural memory as a phenomenon is the distinction between memory and history. This distinction was put forward by Pierre Nora, who pinpointed a niche in-between history and memory.

Scholars disagree as to when to locate the moment representation 'took over'. Nora points to the formation of European nation states. For Richard Terdiman, the French revolution is the breaking point: the change of a political system, together with the emergence of industrialization and urbanization, made life more complex than ever before. This not only resulted in an increasing difficulty for people to understand the new society in which they were living, but also, as this break was so radical, people had trouble relating to the past before the revolution. In this situation, people no longer had an implicit understanding of their past. In order to understand the past, it had to be represented through history. As people realized that history was only one version of the past, they became more and more concerned with their own cultural heritage (in French called patrimoine) which helped them shape a collective and national identity. In search for an identity to bind a country or people together, governments have constructed collective memories in the form of commemorations which should bring and keep together minority groups and individuals with conflicting agendas. What becomes clear is that the obsession with memory coincides with the fear of forgetting and the aim for authenticity.

  • ACUME (Cultural Memory in European Countries).
  • Assmann, J. (1992) Das Kulturelle Gedächtnis: Schrift, Erinnerung und Politische Identität in frühen Hochkulturen. Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck
  • Assmann, A. & Assmann J. (1987). Schrift und Gedächtnis: Beiträge zur Archäologie der literarischen Kommunikation. München: Fink.
  • Assmann, A. & Shortt, L. (2011). Memory and Political Change. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Assmann, J. & Hölscher, T. (1988). Kultur und Gedächtnis, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.
  • Assmann, J. (2000) [2006]. Religion und kulturelles Gedächtnis: Zehn Studien. München: Verlag C.H. Beck.
  • Assmann, A. (2006). ‘Memory, Individual and Collective’. In Goodin, E.; Tilly, C. (2006). The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Assmann, J. (2008). ‘Communicative and Cultural Memory’. In A. Erll & A. Nünning (Eds.), Cultural Memory Studies. An International and Interdisciplinary Handbook (pp. 109–118). Berlin, New York.
  • Bennett, T. (2006) 'Stored Virtue: Memory, the Body and the Evolutionary Museum',in Susannah Radstone and Katharine Hodgkin (eds) Memory Cultures: Memory, Subjectivity and Recognition. New Brunswick & London; Transaction Publishers, 40–54.
  • Bikemen, Nida. (2013). Collective Memory as Identity Content After Ethnic Conflict: An Exploratory Study. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology. 19(1). 23-33.
  • Chaney, Edward, 'Egypt in England and America: The Cultural Memorials of Religion, Royalty and Revolution', Sites of Exchange: European Crossroads and Faultines, ed. M. Ascari and A. Corrado, Amsterdam-New York, Rodopi, 2006, 39–69.
  • Chaney, Edward, 'Roma Britannica and the Cultural Memory of Egypt: Lord Arundel and the Obelisk of Domitian’, in: Roma Britannica: Art Patronage and Cultural Exchange in Eighteenth-Century Rome, eds. David Marshall, Susan Russell and Karin Wolfe, British School at Rome, Rome, 2011, pp. 147–70.
  • Connerton, P. (1989) Bodily Practices. How Societies Remember. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 72–104.
  • Erll, Astrid; Nünning, Ansgar (eds.) (2008) Cultural Memory Studies. An International and Interdisciplinary Handbook Berlin: De Gruyter.
  • Fried Amilivia, Gabriela (2016) Terrorism and the Politics of Memory in Latin America: Transmissions Across The Generations of Post-Dictatorship Uruguay, 1984–2004. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press.
  • Gregor, N. (2008) Haunted City. Nuremberg and the Nazi Past. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Halbwachs, M. (1950) La Mémoire Collective. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
  • Haeckel, E. (1883) The Evolution of Man. (October 23, 2006)
  • Haug, F. (1987) Memory Work. Female Sexualization: A Collective Work of Memory. London: Verso, 33–72.
  • Hirsch, M. (2002) 'Pictures of a Displaced Childhood', Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory, 217-240.
  • Huyssen, A. (2000) 'Present Pasts: Media, Politics, Amnesia', Public Culture 12:1, 21–38.
  • Keenan, C. (1998) 'On the Relationship between Personal Photographs and Individual Memory', History of Photography 22:1, 60–64.
  • Lachmann R. (2004) 'Cultural memory and the Role of Literature', Контрапункт: Книга статей памяти Г.А. Белой. М.: РГГУ, 2005, с. 357-372.
  • Lamarck, J-P. (1984) Zoological Philosophy: An Exposition With Regard to the Natural History of Animals. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Laster, Dominika. (2016) Grotowski's Bridge Made of Memory: Embodied Memory, Witnessing and Transmission in the Grotowski Work. Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2016.
  • Nora, P. (1989) 'Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire', Representations 26, 7–25.
  • Nora, P. (1996) 'The Era of Commemoration', Pierre Nora & L. Kritzman (eds.) Realms of Memory: The construction of the French Past Vol. 3. New York: Columbia University Press, 609–637.
  • Nora, P. (2002) 'The Reasons for the Current Upsurge in Memory', Transit – Europäische Revue 22.
  • Steedman, C. (1986) Landscape for a Good Woman. London: Virago.
  • Stewart, S. (1993) 'Objects of desire. Part I: The Souvenir', On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 132–151.
  • Sturken, M. (1999) 'The Image as Memorial: Personal Photographs in Cultural Memory', Marianne Hirsch (ed.) The Familial Gaze. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 178–195.
  • Terdiman, R. (1993) 'Historicizing Memory', Present Past: Modernity and the Memory Crisis. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 3–32.


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