Collective Memory: Objectification or Anchoring?

  • Laurent Licata Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgique


Collective memories are shared representations of a group's past, based on a common identity. In this short commentary, based on two examples from previous research, I reflect on the tension between two approaches to collective memories: a neo-Freudian approach according to which the past weighs on the present; and a neo-Durkheimian approach according to which the present weighs on representations of the past. The theory of social representations can account for both aspects through the processes of anchoring and objectification. Because they are anchored in pre-existing social representations of the group's past, and because they objectify the present concerns of group members, despite their frequent historical inaccuracy, collective memories convey a truth that deserves to be taken seriously.

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