Alison Ribeiro de MenezesIntroduction: Cultural Memory and the Legacies of Warand Dictatorship in Contemporary Portugal and Spain 1
Alison Ribeiro de Menezes Introduction: Cultural Memory and the Legacies of War and Dictatorship in Contemporary Portugal and Spain Cultural Memory and Its Debates Most surveys of theoretical and scientific ref lection on cultural memory today point to three key figures: French sociologist, Maurice Halbwachs; German Egpytologist, Jan Assmann; and French historian Pierre Nora. Halbwachs, as sociologist Jef frey Olick notes, built on Emile Durkheim’s concept of the conscience collective by demonstrating the manner in which collective representations of the past circulate as the shared symbols of col- lective cultural inheritance.1 His work, nevertheless, has limitations: whilst his focus on memory as collective and socially constructed is immensely important in relocating memories of the past in a specific temporal and spatial context, the question of the transmission of collective memories is inadequately addressed, and hence, the problem of what happens when col- lective memory is stalled or impeded by political events, by authoritarian repression, or by deliberate ideological manipulation, is left unanswered. On the other hand, as Paul Connerton notes, Halbwachs stressed the impor- tance of the relative stability of our material milieu for the creation of the illusion of the co-existence of the past in the present,2 a point of contrast 1 Jef frey Olick, The Politics of Regret: On Collective Memory and Historical Responsibility (New York: Routledge, 2007), pp. 5–6. 2 Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 37. 2 Alison Ribeiro de Menezes that usefully highlights the rapidity of change that...
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