The landscape of European cities has been filled with monuments, museums, commemorative plaques, and art installations aimed at reminding us of history. Often times, the form of commemoration becomes a reason for discussion or a flashpoint. Is there only one model for “making the past present”, or is Europe today home to various forms of historical awareness and different ways of making the past our present? An attempt to answer these questions is an interdisciplinary monograph by Sharon Macdonald, an outstanding cultural anthropologist associated with the University of York and the Humboldt University in Berlin.
“In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, in Europe and in other parts of the world, memory has become one of the most important and most frequently discussed issues of the present day. Memory has long been involved in justifying wars and conflicts. It was also used to call for apologies for past wrongs. Much public opinion today deplores the “cultural amnesia” that affects us, fearing the loss of memory about the past and, consequently, an important point of reference. There is also the fear of the disappearance of witnesses of important historical events and the devaluation of intergenerational memory. At the same time, these processes are accompanied by a specific flourishing of various forms (and work) of collective and individual memory. Europe has become a memory land obsessed with the disappearance and loss of collective memory and the ways of preserving it, ”writes Sharon Macdonald.
Translated from English and commented and edited by Robert Kusek.
A volume 7 in the series Heriotology
The publication is available in Polish.