Collective Memory: Between Values and Historical Knowledge

stmm. 2020 (3): 124-142



Doctor of Sciences in Sociology, Leading Research Fellow at the Department of Sociology of Culture and Mass Communication, Institute of Sociology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (12, Shovkovychna St., Kyiv, 01021)

At the end of the twentieth century, questions of a secondary nature suddenly became topical: what do we remember and who owns the memory? Memory as one of the mental characteristics of an individual’s activity is complemented by the concept of collective memory, which requires a different method of analysis than the activity of a separate individual.

In the 1970s, a situation arose that gave rise to the so-called "historical politics" or "memory politics." If philosophical studies of memory problems of the 30’s and 40’s of the twentieth century were focused mainly on the peculiarities of perception of the past in the individual and collective consciousness and did not go beyond scientific discussions, then half a century later the situation has changed dramatically. The problem of memory has found its political sound: historians and sociologists, politicians and representatives of the media have entered the discourse on memory. Modern society, including all social, ethnic and family groups, has undergone a profound change in the traditional attitude towards the past, which has been associated with changes in the structure of government. In connection with the discrediting of the Soviet Union, the rapid decline of the Communist Party and its ideology, there was a collapse of Marxism, which provided for a certain model of time and history. The end of the revolutionary idea, a powerful vector that indicated the direction of historical time into the future, inevitably led to a rapid change in perception of the past.

Three models of the future, which, according to Pierre Nora, defined the face of the past (the future as a restoration of the past, the future as progress and the future as a revolution) that existed until recently, have now lost their relevance. Today, absolute uncertainty hangs over the future. The inability to predict the future poses certain challenges to the present. The end of any teleology of history imposes on the present a debt of memory.

Features of the life of memory, the specifics of its state and functioning directly affect the state of identity, both personal and collective. Distortion of memory, its incorrect work, and its ideological manipulation can give rise to an identity crisis.

The memorial phenomenon is a certain political resource in a situation of severe socio-political breaks and changes. In the conditions of the economic crisis and in the absence of a real and clear program for future development, the state often seeks to turn memory into the main element of national consolidation.

Keywords: collective memory, historical memory, value, historical reconstruction, identity


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Received 06.08.2020