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Nation and Memory in Eastern Europe (19th and 20th century) Christoph Mick

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Nation and Memory in Eastern Europe (19th and 20th century) Christoph Mick Lecture 3 Memory and Memorial Culture Week 5 A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Nation and Memory in Eastern Europe (19th and 20th century) Christoph Mick


1
Nation and Memory in Eastern Europe (19th and
20th century) Christoph Mick
Lecture 3 Memory and Memorial Culture Week 5
2
Outline 1. Memory and Nation 2.
Collective Memory 3. Pierre Nora and les lieux
de memoire 4. Conclusion
3
A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two
things, which in truth are but one, constitute
this soul or spiritual principle. One lies in the
past, one in the present. One is the possession
in common of a rich legacy of memories the other
is present-day consent, the desire to live
together, the will to perpetuate the value of the
heritage that one has received in an undivided
form Ernest Renan
4
  • ethnies are constituted, not by lines of
    physical descent, but by the sense of continuity,
    shared memory and collective destiny, i.e. by
    lines of cultural affinity embodied in myths,
    memories, symbols and values retained by a given
    cultural unit of population.
  • A.D. Smith, National Identity, p. 29

5
Ethno-Symbolism
  • Modern nations and pre-modern ethnies are linked
  • Ethnies are crucial for the formation of nations
  • Myths, symbols, folk tales, histories, memories,
    cultural traditions play important roles in
    transforming ethnies in nations
  • They are the basis for social cohesion

6
Outline 1. Memory and Nation 2.
Collective Memory 3. Pierre Nora and les lieux
de memoire 4. Conclusion
7
Collective Memory
Concept introduced by the French sociologist
Maurice Halbwachs in 1925, based on ideas of
Emile Durkheim
Individual Memory Collective Memory
Personal, autobiographic Social, historical
Memory of things I have experienced myself, where I have been present Incorporates information about the world beyond my experience, before I was born or where I have not been present
Social framework of remembering Constitutes a kind of social framework
8
Maurice Halbwachs 1877-1945
Emile Durkheim, 1858-1917
9
Multiplicity of Memory
We can understand each memory as it occurs in
individual thought only if we locate each within
the thought of the corresponding group. We cannot
properly understand their relative strength and
the ways in which they combine within individual
thought unless we connect the individual to the
various groups of which he is simultaneously a
member.
Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory (Chicago,
1992), p.53
10
Collective Memory
  • Individual remains the real holder of memory
  • Memory changes over time
  • The collective (family, class, religious
    community, nation) decides what is valuable to
    remember
  • Cultural memory is based on socially organised
    mnemonics, institutions, and media
  • Memory is a social product - Individual memory
    is dependent on society

11
For this purpose we should conceptualize
collective memory as the result of the
interaction among three types of historical
factors the intellectual and cultural traditions
that frame all our representations of the past,
the memory makers who selectively adopt and
manipulate these traditions, and the memory
consumers who use, ignore or transform such
artifacts according to their own
interests. Wulf Kansteiner, Finding Meaning in
memory A Methodological Critique of Collective
Memory Studies, History and Theory 41 (May
2002), pp. 197-197
12
Jan and Aleida Assmann
Communicative Memory everyday communication,
temporal horizon of eighty to hundred years,
strongly influenced by contemporaries of the
remembered events Collective Memory strengthen
the bond of the collective, mediate a collective
identity, social product Cultural Memory body
of reusable texts, images, and rituals specific
to each society in each epoch, whose
cultivation serves to stabilize and convey that
societys self-image. Jan Assmann, Collective
Memory and Cultural Identity, New German
Critique 65 (1995), p. 132
13
Collective Memory and Commemoration
Publicly shared memories are shaped by
ceremonies, cemeteries, museums, symbols, public
holidays, monuments Construction and identity
of groups
14
Outline 1. Memory and Nation 2.
Collective Memory 3. Pierre Nora and les lieux
de memoire 4. Conclusion
15
Les lieux de mémoire sites of memory (Pierre
Nora)
  • Three periods of the history of memory
  • Premodern, natural relation between people and
    their past, milieu de mémoire (environments of
    memory) sustain traditions and rituals,
  • Modern (19th c.) Old traditions lost their
    meaning, reconstruction of tradition by elites,
    production of sites of memory in language,
    monument, and archives to secure the future of
    the nation state
  • Postmodern second reconstruction after the
    collapse of the ideology of the nation state
  • Pierre Nora, Between Memory and History Les
    Lieux de Mémoire, Representations 26 (1989), pp.
    7-24

16
Les lieux de mémoire sites of memory (Pierre
Nora)
If we were able to live within memory, we would
not have needed to consecrate lieux de mémoire in
its name. Each gesture, down to the most
everyday, would be experienced as the ritual
repetition of a timeless practice in a primordial
identification of act and meaning
17
Les lieux de mémoire sites of memory (Pierre
Nora)
There are lieux de mémoire, sites of memory,
because there are no longer milieux de mémoire,
real environments of memory
18
Les lieux de mémoire sites of memory (Pierre
Nora) Functions
  • To stop time
  • To block the work of forgetting
  • To establish a state of things
  • To immortalize death
  • To materialize the material
  • to capture a maximum of meaning in the
    fewest of signs

19
Les lieux de mémoire sites of memory (Pierre
Nora) History and Memory
Memory installs remembrance within the sacred
history, always prosaic, releases it again.
Memory is blind to all but the group it binds At
the heart of history is a critical discourse that
is antithetical to spontaneous memory, History is
perpetually suspicious of memory, and its true
mission is to suppress and destroy it.
20
Collective Memory vs. History
  • Identity project (usually a picture of heroism,
    victimhood, etc.)
  • Impatient with ambiguity
  • Ignores counterevidence in order to preserve
    established narrative
  • Aspires to arrive at objective truth, regardless
    of consequences
  • Recognizes complexity and ambiguity
  • May revise existing narrative in light of new
    evidence (archives, etc.)

But is this dichotomy true? What are the
functions of history and historical research in
nation building?
From Voices of Collective Remembering,
Universitetet i Oslo, May 2004, by James V.
Wertsch, Washington University in St. Louis
21
The past is constructed not as fact but as myth
to serve the interest of a particular
community Alon Confino
22
No sharp dichotomy between official
(manipulative) and vernacular (authentic)
memory How did people internalize the nation
and make it in remarkably short time an everyday
mental property a memory as intimate and
authentic as the local, ethnic, and family
past? Alon Confino, Collective Memory and
Cultural History, p. 1402
23
Outline 1. Memory and Nation 2.
Collective Memory 3. Pierre Nora and les lieux
de memoire 4. Conclusion
24
National memory ... is constituted by different,
often opposing, memories that, in spite of their
rivalries, construct common denominators that
overcome on the symbolic level real social and
political differences to create an imagined
community Alon Confino, Collective Memory and
Cultural History, p.1400
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