Memory studies: from memory to oblivion

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V. Ilin


The article examines the concept of memory studies, which is a separate discipline that studies and analyzes memory issues. The phenomenon of memory is an important part of life, although not presented as a necessary condition of mental activity. Memory, the author notes, is a way for people to construct their past through books, movies, documents, ceremonies, and so on. In memory studies, memory arises in various aspects – collective, social, cultural, genetic, and historical. The reason for claiming a worldwide "memory age" is criticism of official versions of history, the return of memory to communities and peoples whose history has been ignored, the activation of various memorial events, and more. It is shown that a social and cultural construct collective memory retains the authentic past as its version and serves as a means to achieve certain goals. Collective memory is in constant change, which is nonlinear, irrational, and not always subject to logical analysis. New events and ideas affect the perception of the past, and patterns of interpretation of the past determine the understanding of the present. The relation between collective and individual memory appears as the relation between memory and history. The primary function of historical memory is to form an identity. The development of memory studies distinguishes the political, functional, cumulative memory that use the past to shape national identity. The context of historical memory includes the concepts of "oblivion", "custom" and "tradition" that help to identify the turning points of history as they are indicators of the emergence of a new society. Historical memory is a tool for using the past to achieve goals dictated by the current situation. Mobilizing memory and collective perceptions of the past has been an integral part of the political process in recent centuries.


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How to Cite
Ilin, V. (2020) “Memory studies: from memory to oblivion”, Problems of World History, (12), pp. 26-40. doi: 10.46869/2707-6776-2020-12-2.

Author Biography

V. Ilin

Ilyin Volodymyr – Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Professor of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.


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