National Memory in the Context of the Discourse “forgetting”: a Historical and Methodological Aspect

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The article presents the problem of memory in relevance to the phenomenon of forgetting, which appears to be an important condition for the formation of a nation, national memory, national identity and national character. The nation is a solidarity based on democratic expression of will. As a spiritual principle, the nation consists of two elements: one in the past, the other in the future. It is emphasized that it is forgetting, not the intention to the truth, forms the basis of the construction of national memory. The idea that the nation is an “imagined community”, which is thought of as a strong, horizontally organized society, is analyzed. It was the feeling of fraternal unity that compelled millions and millions of people not only to kill, but to die for the sake of imagined creations. Self-image as a nation is the result of a large-scale historiographical campaign conducted by the state and a mechanism for constructing national genealogies. The requirement to “forget” indicates that a person “remembers” and is capable of “memories”. It is argued that “fratricides” are as important to the nation’s existence as narratives of past peaceful coexistence. Seven types of forgetting are distinguished, three of which are considered positive practices of “successful forgetting”: “forgetting by order”; “amnesty”; “institutional oblivion”. Negative types include: “cancellation”; “repressive destruction”; “planned obsolescence”; “silence of humiliation and shame”. There are two counterparties of memory and forgetting: the state and society. State memory cultivates secrecy and protects the foundations of its existence through oblivion. Society’s memory is in constant motion and always strives for oblivion. The element of forgetting in historical memory determines the process of formation of national consciousness as a condition of national identity. What is important is not the imperative of “memory”, but its content. It is in this context that the national memory of the people is formed and affirmed.


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How to Cite
Ilin, V. (2022) “National Memory in the Context of the Discourse ‘forgetting’: a Historical and Methodological Aspect”, Problems of World History, (19), pp. 7–13. doi: 10.46869/10.46869/2707-6776-2022-19-1.
Author Biography

V. Ilin

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


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