Research in collective memory is a relatively new area capturing the interest of scholars in social psychology, memory, sociology, and anthropology. The core idea is that collective attitudes and behaviors are created and shared through common experiences and communication among a cohort of people. For example, people born between 1940 and 1960 are often defined via the JFK assassination and the Vietnam War. Their parents typically experienced lesser impact from these events.

Papers about collective memory have appeared in the literature under different guises for the last hundred years. Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents, Jung's ideas on the collective unconscious, and McDougall's speculation on the group mind posited that identity and action could be viewed as resulting from the shared development of a culture. Halbwachs, a French social psychologist (1877-1945) who was the first to write in detail about the nature of collective memory, argued that basic memory processes were all social. That is, people remember only those events that they have repeated and elaborated in their discussions with others.

In the last several years, there has been a resurgence of interest in this general topic because it addresses some fundamental questions about memory and social processes. Work closely related to these questions deals with the nature of autobiographical memory, traumatic experience and reconstructive memory, and social sharing of memories. This book brings together an international group of researchers who have been empirically studying some basic tenets of collective memory.

part I|127 pages

The Life of Collective Memories

chapter 1|17 pages

On the Creation and Maintenance of Collective Memories

History as Social Psychology

chapter 2|25 pages

The Inventory of Experience

Memory and Identity

chapter 4|23 pages

Art and Remembering Traumatic Collective Events

The Case of the Spanish Civil War

chapter 5|25 pages


part II|92 pages

Social and Emotional Processes of Collective Memories

part III|73 pages

The Construction, Distortion, and Forgetting of Collective Experiences

chapter 11|13 pages


Passing Back Through the Heart 1

chapter 12|16 pages

The Construction of Remembering and Forgetfulness

Memories and Histories of the Spanish Civil War

chapter 14|17 pages

Distortions of Collective Memory

How Groups Flatter and Deceive Themselves