Social memory and the collective past
in History and memory
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This chapter seeks to draw on elements of scholarship in focusing attention on certain aspects of the dynamics and politics of social memory in modern national settings. Events may also take on significance from patterns of expectation that are rooted in the memory of earlier episodes. Commemorations of specific events seldom confine themselves to revisiting the detail of the events themselves. Public commemorative activities are not the only cultural vehicles that influence the formation of a sense of the collective past in human societies. The historical connections and emphases that are articulated in public culture are generally easier to uncover than those that may be at work in the minds of ordinary members of society. Contestations over the appropriate narrative framing of episodes are only one of the things that can make the remembering of events or experiences socially problematic.

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