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Cultural Memory and Early Civilization: Writing, by Jan Assmann

By Jan Assmann

Now to be had to an English-speaking viewers, this booklet offers a groundbreaking theoretical research of reminiscence, identification, and tradition. It investigates how cultures take into accout, arguing that human reminiscence exists and is communicated in methods, particularly inter-human interplay and in exterior platforms of notation, resembling writing, which could span generations. Dr. Assmann defines theoretical strategies of cultural reminiscence, differentiating among the long term reminiscence of societies, that could span as much as 3,000 years, and communicative reminiscence, that is usually limited to 80-100 years. He applies this theoretical framework to case stories of 4 particular cultures, illustrating the functionality contexts and particular achievements, together with the nation, foreign legislation, faith, and technology. eventually, his learn demonstrates that reminiscence isn't easily a way of holding details, yet really a strength which can form cultural id and make allowance cultures to reply creatively to either day-by-day demanding situations and catastrophic adjustments.

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Extra resources for Cultural Memory and Early Civilization: Writing, Remembrance, and Political Imagination

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The fact that only individuals can have a memory because of their neurological equipment makes no difference to the dependence of their memories on the social frame. One should not confuse the concept of the collective with theories of a collective unconscious, along the lines of Jungian archetypes, because this is the complete opposite of Halbwachs’s theory. For Jung the collective memory was 1) biologically hereditary, and 2) a m´emoire involontaire that, for instance, expressed itself in dreams.

Everybody has equal competence. By contrast, participation in cultural memory is always highly differentiated. This even applies to illiterate and egalitarian societies. The original task of the poet was to preserve the group memory, and even today in oral societies this remains the task of the griot. One of them, the Senegalese Lamine Konte, has described the role of the griot as follows50 : “At the time when virtually throughout Africa there were no records, the task of remembering and narrating history had to be handed to a special social group.

Erving Goffman, Frame Analysis An Essay on the Organization of Experience (New York: Harper 1974). Frederic C. Bartlett, Remembering: A Study in Experimental Social Psychology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1932) strongly objected to such expressions (though his approach was similar). 24 To put it differently: a person’s memory forms itself through his or her participation in communicative processes. It is a function of their involvement in a variety of social groups – ranging from family through religion to nation.

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