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What Is Social Memory?

What Is Social Memory? Scot A. French In planning our conference on social memory and southern history, one question arose again and again: What is social memory? Good question. Social memory is a concept used by historians and others to explore the connection between social identity and historical memory. It asks how and why diverse peoples come to think of themselves as members of a group with a shared (though not necessarily agreed upon) past: Hatfields and McCoys, southerners and northerners, blacks and whites, natives and immigrants, Americans all. Some historians use the term "collective memory," placing the emphasis on the internalization of group identities. I prefer the term "social memory" because it calls attention to the social contexts in which people shape their group identities and debate their conflicting perceptions of the past. The concept of social memory is relatively new to the historical profession. It builds on recent theoretical developments in sociology, anthropology, literary criticism, and psychology. In 1989, the Journal ofAmerican History devoted an entire issue to the theme of "Memory and American History," noting the recent surge of scholarly interest in the subject. After surveying the literature in other disciplines, editor David Thelen laid out a research agenda http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Southern Cultures University of North Carolina Press

What Is Social Memory?

Southern Cultures , Volume 2 (1) – Jan 4, 1995

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Center for the Study of the American South.
ISSN
1534-1488
Publisher site
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Abstract

Scot A. French In planning our conference on social memory and southern history, one question arose again and again: What is social memory? Good question. Social memory is a concept used by historians and others to explore the connection between social identity and historical memory. It asks how and why diverse peoples come to think of themselves as members of a group with a shared (though not necessarily agreed upon) past: Hatfields and McCoys, southerners and northerners, blacks and whites, natives and immigrants, Americans all. Some historians use the term "collective memory," placing the emphasis on the internalization of group identities. I prefer the term "social memory" because it calls attention to the social contexts in which people shape their group identities and debate their conflicting perceptions of the past. The concept of social memory is relatively new to the historical profession. It builds on recent theoretical developments in sociology, anthropology, literary criticism, and psychology. In 1989, the Journal ofAmerican History devoted an entire issue to the theme of "Memory and American History," noting the recent surge of scholarly interest in the subject. After surveying the literature in other disciplines, editor David Thelen laid out a research agenda

Journal

Southern CulturesUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jan 4, 1995

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