Academic journal article Hagar

Centering Mnemonic Peripheries: From Heroic Victors to Deserving Victims

Academic journal article Hagar

Centering Mnemonic Peripheries: From Heroic Victors to Deserving Victims

Article excerpt

In this short meditation on the state of memory studies, I would like to challenge the central presupposition informing this volume. Namely that "much of the research in the field of memory studies still focuses on the alleged 'center' of society and on collective, cultural or social memory as representing the elusive notion of a 'majority. '" In this view, "peripheral" perspectives supposedly remain confined to the margins. I suggest an alternative reading of the recent genealogy of memory studies: one in which the marginal has moved center stage.

The field is replete with a copious number of case studies recounting the by now widely known trajectories of the politics of memory. However, what is striking about most of these studies is the diminishing command the nation-state has over the production of shared memory cultures. Aside from the high degree of reflexivity characterizing contemporary memory politics, they reveal challenges and contestations from the periphery. This schematic overview has to suffice here (for a more comprehensive genealogy of the field, see Olick, Vinitsky-Seroussi and Levy, 2011).

Nora (2002), not exactly a friend of extra-national memory movements, provides a succinct analysis of the rise of peripheral voices and situates their origins in the context of emerging identity politics since the 1970s. This trajectory is manifested, among other tilings, in the popularity of Foucault's (1975) notion of counter-memory. With the emergence of the Human Rights Regime during the 1990s, these developments- privileging the voices of the victims-culminate in what Olick (2007) has aptly coined a "politics of regret." That is, not only do we witness the proliferation of socalled counter-memories, but they are also frequently inscribed into official memory politics. …

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