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Generations of Memory: Elements of a Conceptual Framework

  • Harald Wydra (a1)

This paper links memory to generations of meaning and argues that generational belonging mediates access to memory. Generations of meaning create memories because they connect experiences, beyond the lifetime of individuals, with the wider cultural existence of social communities. Such connections can be understood as a hermeneutic and relational process. Meaning is not a factor of causation, but is cumulative, as meanings are recollected across generational thresholds of experience. This paper conceptualizes such thresholds of experience through three lines of enquiry. First, generativity produces new carriers of culture and memory, which sustain perceptions of historical beginnings. Second, generational change is a condition of liminality and in-betweenness, which people work to transcend by mediating fractures and thus connecting past problem spaces to frameworks of anticipation. Third, narrative commitments emerge as memories are recollected across different temporalities, incommensurability, and forgetting. Memory is not the product of one determining generation, but relational, cumulative, and stretched out in time.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
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