Historiographical Background to the Memory Phenomenon
I set forth the larger historiographical context in which the memory phenomenon is situated. I trace the move in scholarship from the history of collective mentalities during the 1960s and 1970s toward the history of collective memory during the 1980s and 1990s. Mentalities focused on the inertial power of social traditions and hence on their relative stability. Studies of collective memory, by contrast, placed the accent on memory’s fragility. In this transition, one notes a shift from memory as the groundwork of history to memory as the object of the historians’ critical scrutiny for bias and distortion. I close with my plan for the book.