Politics of Memory - Conceptions and perceptions on ‘the past and ‘history’ –Part two
By Dilshan BoangeContinuing from the previous week’s article of what conceptions can be analysed of MilanKundera’s
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
on memories of the ‘past’ and ‘history’, thediscussion now looks at aspects such as ‘individual memory’ and ‘collective memory’ and alsothe concept of ‘official memory’ which takes highly political dimensions. British novelist andshort story writer L.P Hartley’s words “The past is a foreign country” seems to resonate how the past can be viewed as ‘a place’ which man possibly yearns for, but has become estranged fromhim as a result of not being part of his material/physical present. But ‘the past’ is activated to the present through memory, as Elizabeth Jelin points out, and therefore the space which weconceive as ‘the past’ can be understood as a space of memory.
‘Individual memory’, ‘Collective memory’ and ‘Official memory’
In discussing politics of memory the idea of ‘individual memory’ and ‘collective memory’should be looked at for the differing dynamics and potentials they may possess. The idea of collective memory as discussed by Jelin gives different perspectives on the matter.
“…[T]he collective aspect of memory is the interweaving of traditions and individual memoriesin dialogue with others and in a state of constant flux”
While a certain social element or basis is brought in to play in the above extract in grounding‘collective memory’ Jelin’s cites the views of French philosopher Paul Ricoeur in her academicarticle to trace attributes/features that are incorporated in history as being a basis on which‘collective memory’ can be understood. Following is an excerpt of what Jelin has cited of Ricoeur.
“[C]ollective memory simply consists of the set of traces left by events that have shaped thecourse of history of those social groups that, in later times, have the capacity to stage these sharedrecollections through holidays, rituals, and public celebrations.”