A Model for Comparative Collective Memory Studies: Regime Types, Cultural Traditions, and Difficult Histories

Original scientific paper

Mark A. Wolfgram ; Oklahoma State University – Stillwater

Fulltext: pdf (426 KB), English, Pages 13 – 35

Collective memory research examines how the process of individual memory formation is a social and collective experience, rather than one that is wholly psychological and individual. The stories that societies tell about themselves are an important part of this process, as they seek to socialize new members into the national community. But sometimes that national history is very difficult to deal with. Most collective memory research is based on a single case study approach. What is lacking in collective memory research, although not absent, are broader comparative studies. This article develops a general model for the process of collective memory formation, which I can then use in my ongoing empirical research into how several different authoritarian and democratic societies with Eastern and Western cultural traditions have dealt with their violent histories. The cases include Germany (East and West), Japan, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Spain. In this article, I develop a general model of collective memory formation while drawing upon these five cases to illustrate different points. While democratic societies have a greater potential for dealing more fully with their difficult histories, it is far from guaranteed that they will do so.

Collective Memory, Germany; Japan; Turkey; Yugoslavia; Spain