Bochum-Grenoble Memory Colloquium

Anja Berninger (Universität Stuttgart)

Collective memory, emotions and commitments.

19.11.2020, 10:00-11:30 CET (UTC+01:00).

Online Lecture via zoom.

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  • Meeting ID: 829 7050 5769
  • Password: 8rraW0

Abstract: It is a relatively common claim both in history and cultural studies that not only individuals, but also large groups of people such as religious communities or whole nations have some form of memory. Thus, for example, it is suggested that Germans remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, Americans remember the Vietnam war etc. These (and similar) cases are frequently discussed under the heading “collective memory”. From a philosophical perspective, two questions come up with respect to this phenomenon: Is it really memory that we are talking about here? And, if yes, what sort of memory is it? In response to these questions, I suggest that we should interpret most of these cases as involving semantic memory. Yet, as I will highlight in the first section of my talk, not just any form of collective semantic memory would count as collective memory in the historian’s sense of the term. I suggest that two further ingredients need to be integrated to characterize the form of memory we are after: First of all, I will suggest that this type of memory has an emotional component. Secondly, I will argue that there is a specific commitment structure associated with the type of memory in question. I use the rest of the presentation to spell out both aspects in more detail.