Setting the Framework

TitleSetting the Framework
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsWinter, Jay, and Emmanuel Siven
EditorWinter, Jay, and Emmanuel Siven
Book TitleWar and Remembrance in the Twentieth Century
PublisherCambridge University Press

This chapter introduces the framework in which the volume as a whole has been conceived by the editors. This book is intended as a contribution to the history of collective remembrance in the twentieth century. Its focus is on wars, soldiers, and victims of wars in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Its purpose is to examine collective remembrance as the outcome of agency, as the product of individuals and groups who come together, not at the behest of the state or any of its subsidiary organizations, but because they have to speak out. The authors describe the volume as beingĀ at the intersection of private memories, family memories, and collective memories. The men and women whose activity the editors explore in this book lived through war as trauma, understood as an overwhelming, sustained, and mass experience. Many were in mourning; most were torn by war from one set of daily rhythms and were in search of another. Their decisions to act in public - by creating associations, by writing memoirs, by producing films, by speaking out in a host of ways - were profoundly personal. But they were not only private matters, since they existed in a social framework, the framework of collective action. This emphasis on agency, on activity, on creativity, highlights a different approach to the cultural history of this century. The editorsĀ speak of 'collective memory', but depart from those who define it as the property of dominant forces in the state, or of all survivors of war in the privacy of their lives, or as some facet of the mental furniture of a population. Instead, the editors privilege the term 'collective remembrance' and frame the war experiences described in this volume thus.

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