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Myth and Memory in the Construction of Community

Historical Patterns in Europe and Beyond

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Bo Strath

Across and beyond Europe, history is being rewritten in the wake of the Cold War’s dissolution. An example of this process is the re-evaluation of the part played by resistance movements during World War II in country after country. This book deals with the role of myth and memory in the formation of collective identities with a particular emphasis on national identities. Myth and memory should not be seen as clearly demarcated from history. They are history in ceaseless transformation and reconstruction, the image of the past is continuously reconsidered and reconstituted in the light of an everchanging present. History is an interpretation of the past; not the past as it really was. The key question of this book concerns the role myth and memory play in the construction of communities, and what the distinction between collective myth and memory signifies. The discussion of this question is undertaken in theoretically oriented chapters as well as 15 case studies of national patterns from Scandinavia in the north to Italy and Israel in the south, and from the USA in the west to Russia in the east, as well as local community constructions in working-class districts in Glasgow and Roubaix and the national politics of architecture in Berlin and Rome.
This book appears within the framework of a research project on the cultural construction of community in modernisation processes in comparison. This project is a joint enterprise of the European University Institute in Florence and the Humboldt University in Berlin sponsored by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Fund.
Contents: James Kaye: Prologue. Wolfgang Pavlik. The Image of the Other: Ahnengalerie – Bo Stråth: Introduction. Myth, Memory and History in the Construction of Community – Hayden White: Catastrophe, Communal Memory and Mythic Discourse: The Uses of Myth in the Reconstruction of Society – Lutz Niethammer: Maurice Halbwachs: Memory and the Feeling of Identity – Thomas Hippler: Spinoza on Historical Myths – Michael James Miller: Conflict in the Social Representation of Place: The Cases of Gorbals and Alma-Gare – Beate Binder: Political Stage-Setting. The Symbolic Transformation of Berlin – Steen Bo Frandsen: Italian Fascism and Roman Heritage: The Third Rome of Mussolini – Lars Berggren: Monuments in the Making of Italy – Ron Robin: Representation of the American Nation in Architecture: The Case of the 1920s – Bo Stråth: The Baltic as Image and Illusion: The Construction of a Region between Europe and the Nation – Wolfgang Kaschuba: The Emergence and Transformation of Foundation Myths – Bernhard Giesen: National Identity as Trauma: The German Case – Ewa Domańska: (Re)creative Myths and Constructed History: The Case of Poland – Péter Apor: The Creative Fear: Fascism, Anti-Semitism, Democracy and the Foundation of the People’s Democracy in Hungary – Marta Petrusewicz: A Nazione Mancata: The Construction of the Mezzogiorno after 1848Ilan Pappe: Challenging Israel’s Foundation Myths: The Constitution of a Constructive Mythology? – Ron Robin: Two Cheers for the New Historians: A Critique of Israel’s Post-Nationalists – Andrei Zorin: In Search of a New Identity: Visions of Past and Present in Post-Communist Russia – Arve Thorsen: Foundation Myths at Work: National Day Celebrations in France, Germany and Norway in a Comparative Perspective – Mette Zølner: Remembering the Second World War in Denmark: The Impact of Politics, Ideology and Generation – Bo Stråth: Poverty, Neutrality and Welfare: Three Key Concepts in the Modern Foundation Myth of Sweden.