Article in:Narrative Inquiry: Online-First Articles
Cultural memories and their re-actualizations
A narrative perspective
Memory studies has, in only a few decades, produced insights in two inter-related processes. First, memory scholars theorized how representations of the past become socially shared. Secondly, they theorized how these cultural and collective memories circulate and are being re-actualized in different contexts. But critiques of the field have targeted the metaphorical and reified nature of cultural memory concepts. This article argues that some concepts developed in social scientific narrative studies could provide cultural memory scholars with a precise and less metaphorical vocabulary to understand how people make sense of non-autobiographical pasts in different interactional contexts. In particular, the article focusses on how positioning theory and unexplained events in narrative pre-construction assist analysis of the flexibility of the remembering self in everyday interaction. The examples in this article concern narrations of the Second World War and Holocaust gathered during fieldwork in the contemporary town of Auschwitz in Poland.
Keywords: cultural memory, collective memory, interaction, positioning, narrative pre-construction, Auschwitz
- Cultural memory, normativity and interactional narrative studies
- Positioning and narrative pre-construction as concepts for memory scholars
- Case studies: Narrating 1939–1945 in Auschwitz/Oświęcim
Published online: 04 November 2021
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