“Everyone has a human right to his or her memories…”

I see Arkiv are going for the Economist model of naming the writing staff (or founding team) but eschewing bylines… Anyhoo, I suspect, given the thoughtfulness of the output on their blog, their submission to Haass is well worth the time to read.

In the meantime, with the vexed issue of local troubles related historiography in mind, this quote from the German sociologist Aleida Assmann in particular caught my eye…

…nothing is gained by discarding lived experiences merely because they do not conform to a broader historical perspective. Everyone has a human right to his or her memories. That, however, does not exclude the necessity to place such memories that have been articulated and recognized on a wider horizon. As contextualized memories, they lose the taint of irreconcilable solipsism. Only by retrospectively placing them in a larger context can they be made compatible with other memories.

This is a critical factor to take on board when even beginning to consider how we handle the past… In particular, as Archiv notes nearer the beginning we have a particular problem which Assmann talks about in the context of post war Europe:

Psychologists speak of ‘screen memories’ that suppress other memories and serve to protect a positive self-image. To put it another way, one remembers something in order to be better able to forget something else.

Assmann goes on to outline how this occurs politically: ‘When applied to the realm of national memory, this means that one recalls one’s own suffering in order to avoid being reminded of one’s own guilt’.

And…

Assmann urges a movement from exclusion to inclusion of memories. ‘Memories that support a collective identity,’ she argues, ‘are not only selective but also tend toward uniformity. One memory grows in size to crowd another out’.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty