States of Memory

Continuities, Conflicts, and Transformations in National Retrospection

States of Memory

Politics, History, and Culture

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Book Pages: 368 Illustrations: 6 tables, 3 figures Published: July 2003

History > European History, Politics > Political Science, Sociology

States of Memory illuminates the construction of national memory from a comparative perspective. The essays collected here emphasize that memory itself has a history: not only do particular meanings change, but the very faculty of memory—its place in social relations and the forms it takes—varies over time. Integrating theories of memory and nationalism with case studies, these essays stake a vital middle ground between particular and universal approaches to social memory studies.

The contributors—including historians and social scientists—describe societies’ struggles to produce and then use ideas of what a “normal” past should look like. They examine claims about the genuineness of revolution (in fascist Italy and communist Russia), of inclusiveness (in the United States and Australia), of innocence (in Germany), and of inevitability (in Israel). Essayists explore the reputation of Confucius among Maoist leaders during China’s Cultural Revolution; commemorations of Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States Congress; the “end” of the postwar era in Japan; and how national calendars—in signifying what to remember, celebrate, and mourn—structure national identification. Above all, these essays reveal that memory is never unitary, no matter how hard various powers strive to make it so.

States of Memory will appeal to those scholars-in sociology, history, political science, cultural studies, anthropology, and art history-who are interested in collective memory, commemoration, nationalism, and state formation.

Contributors. Paloma Aguilar, Frederick C. Corney, Carol Gluck, Matt K. Matsuda, Jeffrey K. Olick, Francesca Polletta, Uri Ram, Barry Schwartz, Lyn Spillman, Charles Tilly, Simonetta Falasca Zamponi, Eviatar Zerubavel, Tong Zhang


"States of Memory succeeds, for the most part, in achieving Olick's goal of presenting middle-range theories of memory, casing generally applicable theory of social memory within localized case studies. The diversity in this volume, which includes the work of sociologists, political scientists, and historians, is evident in the breadth of perspectives presented." — Charles Golden, American Anthropologist

"States of Memory will interest public historians as a useful collection of essays on memory and modern nationalism." — Aaron Cohen , The Public Historian

"[A]n enchanting set of essays addressing the construction and use of memory by political, socioeconomic elites and in scholarly studies." — John Francis Burke , Perspectives on Political Science

"[T]his book offers a series of thought-provoking case studies that prompt the reader to make links between different contexts of memory, something that, as Olick points out, is often lacking in this field of study. Despite the risk that the range of contexts and methodological orientations can dilute possible sociological and theoretical insights, overall, it is one of the book's assets. It makes a contribution to research interested in refining the sociological study of memory and developing a conceptual apparatus sufficiently nuanced for the complexity of the topic and its current conditions".

— Christine Lavrence , Canadian Journal of Sociology

"The consistently strong essays in States of Memory contribute to middle-level theories about the memory-nation nexus. Moreover the volume provides interdisciplinary, cross-cultural data that could be used to develop inclusive grand theories that will further advance the young field. . . . [A] valuable resource for scholars of culture, politics, and history." — Tim Kubal , Contemporary Sociology

“An old Yugoslav aphorism goes: ‘The future is not hard to predict, but the past is forever changing.’ The essays gathered in this volume all deal in one way or another with the way people organize their collective memories of a past, and particularly a national past. The range of topics is remarkable, and the essays themselves are uniformly excellent—beginning with Jeffrey K. Olick's masterful introduction.” — Kai Erikson, author of A New Species of Trouble: The Human Experience of Modern Disasters


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jeffrey K. Olick is Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction / Jeffrey K. Olick 1

Rethinking a Great Event: The October Revolution as Memory Project / Frederick C. Corney 17

Of Storytellers and Master Narratives: Modernity, Memory, and History in Fascist Italy / Simonetta Falasca Zamponi 43

Idols of the Emperor / Matt K. Matsuda 72

Confucius and the Cultural Revolution: A Study in Collective Memory / Tong Zhang and Barry Schwartz 101

Institutional Legacies and Collective Memories: The Case of the Spanish Transition to Democracy / Paloma Aguilar 128

When Do Collective Memories Last? Founding Moments in the United States and Australia / Lyn Spillman 161

Legacies and Liabilities of an Insurgent Past: Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. on the House and Senate Floor / Francesca Polletta 193

Postnationalist Pasts: The Case of Israel / Uri Ram 227

What Does It Mean to Normalize the Past? Official Memory in German Politics since 1989 / Jeffrey K. Olick 259

The "End" of the Postwar: Japan at the Turn of the Millennium / Carol Gluck 289

Calendars and History: A Comparative Study of the Social Organization of National Memory / Eviatar Zerubavel 315

Afterword: Borges and Brass / Charles Tilly 339

Contributors 347

Index 351
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3063-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3051-6
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