Collective Memory as Social Representations

  • Daniel Bar-Tal School of Education , Tel Aviv University
Keywords: social representation, collective memory, intractable conflicts


The present paper illuminates collective memory as social representations in the context of intractable conflict. First it elaborates on the nature of collective memory as social representations, indicating that all the nations and ethnic groups need to have a narrative that tells the story about the group's past. These social representations tell a story that is functional and relevant to the society's present existence and future aspirations, as well as providing a meaning to social identity. Of special interest is the focus on the role of collective memory in societies involved in intractable conflict, because these social representations are determinative in maintaining and feeding the conflict and often function as a potent obstacle to conflict resolution and peace making process in general. The paper elaborates on the contents and functions of these social representations. Finally it describes the struggle between the social representations of collective memory between the two rivals in intractable conflict which often entertain contradictory and selective historical collective memories of the same past.

Author Biography

Daniel Bar-Tal, School of Education , Tel Aviv University

DANIEL BAR-TAL is Branco Weiss Professor of Research in Child Development and Education at the School of Education, Tel Aviv University. His research interest is in political and social psychology studying socio-psychological foundations of intractable conflicts and peace building, as well as development of political understanding among children and peace education. He has published twenty books and over two hundreds articles and chapters in major social and political psychological journals, books and encyclopedias and has received various awards for his work.