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Narrating Unity at the European Union’s New History Museum: A Cultural-Process Approach to the Study of Collective Memory

  • Till Hilmar (a1)

Power in sociological studies of memory is commonly understood as a function of political interests that are successfully framed as an inclusive and convincing story about selected elements of the past. By showing how negotiations of memory are driven by dynamics of symbolic exchange and by distinguishing techniques of narration emerging from this process, I develop a theoretical model that helps to better understand the locus of symbolic power in mnemonic agency. I consider the case of the plans surrounding a European history museum to show how persistent notions of cultural unity can be drafted in democratic societies.


Dans les études de sociologie de la mémoire, le pouvoir est fréquemment perçu comme une fonction d’intérêts politiques recadrés dans les termes d’une histoire, à la fois intégratrice et incontestée, centrée sur certains éléments du passé. En montrant de quelle manière les négociations mémorielles sont dirigées par des dynamiques d’échange symbolique et en différenciant les techniques narratives qui en émergent, cet article développe un modèle théorique destiné à mieux saisir le site même du pouvoir symbolique dans l’agentivité mémorielle. Il s’appuie sur une étude de cas consacrée à l’élaboration de la nouvelle Maison pour l’histoire européenne afin de montrer comment des conceptions durables de l’unité culturelle peuvent être élaborées dans les sociétés démocratiques.


In der Erinnerung gewidmeten soziologischen Studien wird Macht meist als Ausdruck politischer Interessen verstanden, die mit Erfolg eine inklusive und überzeugende Geschichte spezifisch ausgewählter Vergangenheitselemente bilden. Anhand von Erinnerungsverhandlungen, die von der Dynamik eines symbolischen Austausches und charakteristischen, durch diesen Prozess entstandenen Erzähltechniken gelenkt werden, entwickle ich ein theoretisches Modell, um den symbolischen Machtlokus des mnemotechnischen Trägers besser zu begreifen. Die Analyse der Entstehugsgeschichte des Hauses für europäische Geschichte ermöglicht, die Konstruktion von robusten Vorstellungen von kultureller Einheit in demokratischen Gesellschaften nachzuzeichnen.

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European Journal of Sociology / Archives Européennes de Sociologie
  • ISSN: 0003-9756
  • EISSN: 1474-0583
  • URL: /core/journals/european-journal-of-sociology-archives-europeennes-de-sociologie
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