Collective Memory of Political Events: Social Psychological Perspectives

By James W. Pennebaker; Dario Paez et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter 10
Nostalgia, Immigration, and Collective Memory

Guglielmo Bellelli Mirella A. C. Amatulli University of Bari, Italy

Kleiner ( 1977) defined nostalgia as "the desire to come back to an idealized past" (p. 11), wherein individuals attain their freedom from conflict. Although the term employed to designate it is quite recent, nostalgia is a diffuse feeling, which has been extensively described in both mythology and literature. After presenting a brief review of some of the main sociological and psychological studies on this topic, our aim is to consider nostalgia related to migratory phenomena, to which it is strictly linked,1 and to demonstrate how it is also linked to what Halbwachs ( 1950) defined as collective memory. Collective memory is more than a mere collection of factual shared memories: In fact, its collective nature derives from the sharing of the meaning and interpretations generations give to recalled specific events2 more than from the mere sharing of them. Finally, we show how nostalgia has been analyzed more frequently at an individual and intrapersonal level, and how its social functions have been neglected.

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1
In this respect, Alleon and Morvan ( 1989) coined the expression "myth of Ulysses," comparing it with the myth of Oedipus.
2
Jodelet ( 1994) observed that, in migrations, the identification with the receiving society is rarely complete. It may also be an important instrument to exploit and spread one's own identity, protecting it from assimilation, as well as for sharing the memory of the group into which it is integrating.

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Collective Memory of Political Events: Social Psychological Perspectives
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