History and Collective Memory

Defending the legitimacy of the category of “collective memory,” Maurice Halbwachs observes the following:

History is neither the whole nor even all that remains of the past. In addition to written history, there is a living history that perpetuates and renews itself through time and permits the recovery of many old currents that have seemingly disappeared (64).

Thus, in some respect, the “collective memory” provides the means by which a community recovers for itself things that it has forgotten or allowed to fall into the vague and dusty corners of its memory. Without such collective memory, these lost currents would have no presence in relation to the community and they would have to be recovered—if they would ever be recovered at all—in the same manner as the community discovers new things of which it had not previously been aware.


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Collective Memory
Maurice Halbwachs

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