Collective memory: The two cultures

Sociological Theory 17 (3):333-348 (1999)
Abstract
What is collective about collective memory? Two different concepts of collective memory compete-one refers to the aggregation of socially framed individual memories and one refers to collective phenomena sui generis-though the difference is rarely articulated in the literature. This article theorizes the differences and relations between individualist and collectivist understandings of collective memory. The former are open to psychological considerations, including neurological and cognitive factors, but neglect technologies of memory other than the brain and the ways in which cognitive and even neurological patterns are constituted in part by genuinely social processes. The latter emphasize the social and cultural patternings of public and personal memory, but neglect the ways in which those processes are constituted in part by psychological dynamics. This article advocates, through the example of traumatic events, a strategy of multidimensional rapprochement between individualist and collectivist approaches
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