The Collective Memory Reader

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-02-04
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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There are few terms or concepts that have, in the last twenty or so years, rivaled "collective memory" for attention in the humanities and social sciences. Indeed, use of the term has extended far beyond scholarship to the realm of politics and journalism, where it has appeared in speeches at the centers of power and on the front pages of the world's leading newspapers. The current efflorescence of interest in memory, however, is no mere passing fad: it is a hallmark characteristic of our age and a crucial site for understanding our present social, political, and cultural conditions. Scholars and others in numerous fields have thus employed the concept of collective memory, sociological in origin, to guide their inquiries into diverse, though allegedly connected, phenomena. Nevertheless, there remains a great deal of confusion about the meaning, origin, and implication of the term and the field of inquiry it underwrites. The Collective Memory Reader thus presents, organizes, and evaluates past work and provides essential materials for future research on the questions raised under the rubric of collective memory. Combining seminal texts, hard-to-find classics, previously untranslated materials, contemporary landmarks, as well as unusual extensions, it provides a foundational resource for teaching and research in the field, including wide-ranging reference points and exemplars from the vast literature. Most important, in both its selections as well in its editorial contributions, The Collective Memory Reader provides a novel life-story for the field, one that appreciates recent innovations but only against the background of a long history. In addition to its major editorial introduction, which outlines a useful past for contemporary memory studies, The Collective Memory Reader includes five sections--Precursors and Classics; History, Memory, and Identity; Power, Politics, and Contestation; Media and Modes of Transmission; Memory, Justice, and the Contemporary Epoch--comprising eighty-eight texts. In addition to the essay introducing the entire volume, a brief editorial essay introduces each of the sections, while brief capsules frame each of the 88 texts.

Author Biography

Jeffrey K. Olick is Professor of Sociology and History at the University of Virginia.

Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Daniel Levy is Associate Professor of Sociology at Stony Brook University, SUNY.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction, Jeffrey K. Olick, Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Daniel Levy

Part One: Precursors and Classics
Introduction to Part One
Edmund Burke, from Reflections on the Revolution in France.
Alexis de Tocqueville, from Democracy in America.
Friedrich Nietzsche, from On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life
Ernst Renan, from What is a Nation?
Sigmund Freud, from Totem and Taboo: Resemblances between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics and Moses and Monotheism
Karl Marx, from The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
Karl Mannheim, from The Sociological Problem of Generations
Walter Benjamin, from The Storyteller and Theses on the Philosophy of History
Ernst Gombrich, from Aby Warburg: An Intellectual Biography
Theodor Adorno, from Valéry Proust Museum and In Memory of Eichendorff
Lev Vygotsky, from Mind in Society
Frederic Bartlett, from Remembering: A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology
Carl Becker, from Everyman his own Historian
George Herbert Mead, from The Nature of the Past
Charles Horton Cooley, from Social Process
Emile Durkheim, from The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
Maurice Halbwachs, from The Collective Memory
Marc Bloch, from Memoire Collective, Tradition et Coutume: A propos d'un Livre Recent [Collective Memory, Custom, and Tradition: About a Recent Book]
Charles Blondel, from Revue Critique: M. Halbwachs Les Cadres Sociaux de la Mémoire [Critical Review of M. Halbwachs Les Cadres Sociaux de la Mémoire]
Roger Bastide, from The African Religions of Brazil: Toward a Sociology of the Interpenetration of Civilizations.
Lloyd Warner, from The Living and the Dead: A Study of the Symbolic Life of Americans
E.E. Evans-Pritchard, from The Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People
Claude Levi-Strauss, from The Savage Mind

Part Two: History, Memory and Identity
Introduction to Part Two
Hans-Georg Gadamer, from Truth and Method
Edward Casey, from Remembering: A Phenomenological Study
Peter Burke, from History as Social Memory
Allan Megill, from History, Memory, Identity
Alon Confino, from Collective Memory and Cultural History: Problems of Method
Yosef Yerushalmi, from Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory
Jan Assmann, from Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism and Collective Memory and Cultural Identity
Peter Berger, from Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Approach
Eviatar Zerubavel, from Social Memories: Steps towards a Sociology of the Past
Jeffrey K. Olick, from Collective Memory: The Two Cultures
Robert Bellah, Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler, Steven M. Tipton, from Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life
Anthony Smith, from The Ethnic Origins of Nations
Yael Zerubavel, from Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition
Barry Schwartz, from Abraham Lincoln and the Forge of American Memory

Part Three: Power, Politics, and Contestation
Introduction to Part Three
Michel Foucault, from Film in Popular Memory: An Interview with Michel Foucault
Popular Memory Group, from Popular Memory: Theory, Politics, Method
Raphael Samuel, from Theatres of Memory
John Bodnar, from Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century
Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelen, from The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life
Eric Hobsbawm, from Introduction: Inventing Traditions
Terence Ranger, from The Invention of Tradition Revisited: The Case of Colonial Africa
Orlando Patterson, from Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study
Richard Sennett, from Disturbing Memories
Michael Schudson, from The Past in the Present versus the Present in the Past
Gladys Lang and Kurt Lang, from Recognition and Renown: The Survival of Artistic Reputation
Lori Ducharme and Gary Alan Fine, from The Construction of Nonpersonhood and Demonization: Commemorating the 'Traitorous' Reputation of Benedict Arnold
Wulf Kansteiner, from Finding Meaning in Memory: A Methodological Critique of Collective Memory Studies
Ron Eyerman, from The Past in the Present: Culture and the Transmission of Memory
Jeffrey Alexander, from Toward a Cultural Theory of Trauma

Part Four: Media and Modes of Transmission
Introduction to Part Four
André Leroi-Gourhan, from Gesture and Speech
Jack Goody, from Memory in Oral and Literate Traditions
Merlin Donald, from Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition
Aleida Assmann, from Canon and Archive
Paul Connerton, from How Societies Remember
Harald Welzer, Sabine Moller, Karoline Tschuggnall, Olaf Jensen, Torsten Koch, from Opa war kein Nazi: Nationalsozialismus und Holocaust im Familiengedächtnis [Grandpa Wasn't a Nazi: National Socialism in Family Memory]
Marianne Hirsch, from The Generation of Postmemory
John Thompson, from Tradition and Self in a Mediated World
George Lipsitz, from Time Passages: Collective Memory and American Popular Culture
Barbie Zelizer, from Why Memory's Work on Journalism does not Reflect Journalism's Work on Memory
Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz, from Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History
Reinhardt Koselleck, from War Memorials: Identity Formations of the Survivors
James Young, from At Memory's Edge: After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art
Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi, From Commemorating a Difficult Past: Yitzhak Rabin's Memorials
M. Christine Boyer, from The City of Collective Memory: Its Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments
Danièle Hervieu-Léger, from Religion as a Chain of Memory
Harald Weinrich, from Lethe: The Art and Critique of Forgetting
Robin Wagner-Pacifici, from Memories in the Making: The Shapes of Things that Went

Part Five: Memory, Justice, and the Contemporary Epoch
Introduction to Part Five
Edward Shils, from Tradition
Ian Hacking, from Memory Sciences, Memory Politics
Patrick Hutton, from History as Art of Memory
Anthony Giddens, from Living in a Post-Traditional Society
David Gross, from Lost Time: On Remembering and Forgetting in Late Modern Culture
Jay Winter, from Remembering War: The Great War between Memory and History in the Twentieth Century
Andreas Huyssen, from Present Pasts: Media, Politics, Amnesia
Pierre Nora, from Reasons for the Current Upsurge in Memory
Charles Maier, from A Surfeit of Memory? Reflections on History, Melancholy and Denial
Fred Davis, from Yearning for Yesterday: A Sociology of Nostalgia
Svetlana Boym, from Nostalgia and Its Discontents
Michel-Rolph Trouillot, from Abortive Rituals: Historical Apologies in the Global Era
Daniel Levy and Natan Sznaider, from Memory Unbound: The Holocaust and the Formation of Cosmopolitan Memory
Mark Osiel, from Mass Atrocity, Collective Memory, and the Law
Avishai Margalit, from The Ethics of Memory
Marc Augé, from Oblivion
Paul Ricoeur, from Memory-Forgetting-History


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