Faculty of History, Communication and Tourism

Department of Sociology and Special Sociological Disciplines

Boreysha Evgeny Sergeevich


Course work

1st year full-time student

specialty 1-23 01 05 Sociology

Scientific adviser: candidate of sociological sciences,

associate professor N.L. Myslyvets

Coursework admitted to defense

__________________N.L. Myslyvets


Coursework defended

“___” ____________2016


Grodno, 2016


Boreysha Evgeny Sergeevich

Topic of the course work:

“Historical memory as a subject of scientific research”

The work contains: 34 pages, 33 sources of literature used.

Key words: historical memory, cultural memory, social memory, consciousness, society, historical image, myth.

The purpose of the course work is to study the problem of historical memory as a subject of scientific research, to study the influence of historical memory on public consciousness, historical memory in the context of interdisciplinarity.

The object of research is historical memory.

The following methods were used in the work: historical, classification and typology, induction, deduction, comparison, data processing and analysis.



CHAPTER 1 CONCEPTUALIZATION OF THE CONCEPTS “HISTORICAL MEMORY”, “SOCIAL MEMORY”, “CULTURAL MEMORY”………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….





AND LITERATURE…………………………………………………………………31


The study of historical memory is an important component of humanitarian knowledge. Recently, the study of this problem has occupied one of the central places in the general scientific humanitarian context.

Historical memory is a kind of pantheon of national identity. It contains knowledge about fateful events, historical battles, life and creative activities of prominent figures in politics and science, technology and art. Historical memory reproduces the continuity and succession of social Being.

Memory is the transcendence of time, the transcendence of space. Memory is the basis of conscience and morality, memory is the basis of culture. Memory as an “incorporeal spiritual substance” becomes a distinct force, especially in times of difficult trials that fall to the lot of people. A person needs to feel himself in history, understand his significance and place in this world, leave a good memory of himself to his descendants. Cultural memory is a necessary condition for the moral life of society, spiritual enlightenment, national identity, attachment to one’s native places, education of patriotism and love for one’s homeland.

However, the process of historical memory does not mean only a mechanical repetition and reproduction of the past, it reflects the complexity, ambiguity of human relations, changes in spiritual values and personal positions, and the influence of subjective opinions. Evidence of this are the “black holes” and “white spots” in world and national history.

Historical memory often becomes an arena for ideological conflicts, rewriting facts, reviewing certain events from a favorable angle, and unfolding spiritual dramas and tragedies. The rewriting of history, the reassessment of the past, the overthrow of idols, irony and mockery break the thin thread of historical memory, change the energy potential of culture and society as a whole.

Civilization relies on the achievements of culture, they constitute its spiritual frame, foundation and support. National and social identity is determined by respect for the historical past in all the contradictory and diverse manifestations of this past. Historical memory is a kind of “bridge” connecting the past, present and future. Historical monuments are texts, artifacts, symbols and signs, the necessary basis for mutual understanding of generations and mutual dialogue of cultures. The study of historical memory is not only a process of learning about history, but also a process of learning about culture, learning about the social component of any society. That is why the problem of historical memory occupies many minds, which form the basis of modern humanitarian knowledge.

Purpose: to identify the main trends in the study of historical memory throughout history, to determine the place of this problem in the context of general scientific knowledge, to find out the degree of influence of historical memory on consciousness.


1. To study the typification of concepts: “historical memory”, “social memory”, “cultural memory”.

2. To study the significance of historical memory as an interdisciplinary research problem.

3. Reveal the influence of historical memory on the formation of consciousness in society.

Object: historical memory.

Subject: analysis of existing approaches to the study of historical memory and the features of its impact on the formation of public consciousness.

When writing a term paper, the following methods of cognition were used: historical, classification and typology, induction, deduction, comparison, data processing and analysis.

The goals and objectives determine the structure of the work, which consists of an introduction, three chapters, a conclusion, a list of sources used.

The introduction discusses the relevance of the topic, goals and objectives of the study, defines its object and subject.

The first chapter deals with individual concepts of humanitarian knowledge, which have much in common with each other: “historical memory”, “social memory”, “cultural memory”.

The second chapter is devoted to the study of historical memory in the context of interdisciplinarity, the study of historical memory in general, and the figures who studied historical memory.

The third chapter presents the properties of the influence of historical memory on the formation of public consciousness.

In conclusion, the results of the research topic are summarized. Then there is a list of used sources.


At the center of modern science are debatable problems that require their understanding and rethinking in a new model of being. Such is the problem of historical memory, which is ontologically, epistemologically and axiologically significant. At the end of the twentieth century, along with the concepts of historical knowledge and historical consciousness, the concept of historical memory appears. In the concept of the humanities, the concept of historical memory has taken an important place and has become one of the most popular. It is addressed not only by historians, as one might think at first glance, but also by representatives of such humanities as sociology, cultural studies, political science and others. If, in order to define historical memory, one looks only at the name, then one can make a common mistake: the concepts of “history” and “historical memory” are perceived by many as synonyms, but this is not so; moreover, these two concepts are sometimes considered by scientists as opposed to each other. Historical memory is interpreted in different ways: as a way of preserving and transmitting the past in an era of loss of tradition, as the memory of each individual about the past, as a collective memory of the past, as a social memory of the past, and, finally, simply as a synonym for historical consciousness. Historical memory reproduces the continuity and continuity of social life. For a more detailed understanding and study of this concept, I think it is worth disassembling it into its component parts: history and memory .

The study of history is aimed at the past of human society in all its concreteness and diversity, which is known in order to understand the present, often on the basis of theories and approaches borrowed from other scientific disciplines (for example, sociology). History, as a rule, is passed on to the next generations in two versions: written (chronicles, chronicles, textbooks) and oral (“word of mouth”). The oral tradition of transmitting information about the past is mythological. It is characterized by the fact that memory stores and “reproduces” information about the past based on the imagination generated by the feelings and sensations caused by the present. The story in the “oral” version, as a rule, can be quite different from the story in its “written version”. Memories of past events, as psychologists have long established, are reproduced through the prism of the present. Over time, such memories are slightly “erased”, along with the natural departure of people – contemporaries of historical events and take on a different form than at the beginning of their “historical path”. Historical memory is changing, acquiring new shades, becoming less reliable and more “saturated” with the realities of our time. That is, unlike scientific knowledge about the past, historical memory, as it were, becomes even more politically and ideologically actualized over time. Thus, the same event may differ in written sources, from its interpretation in the memory of the common people. However, both history and historical memory inform us about the events of our world that have sunk into oblivion. This is their main similarity.

The definition of “historical memory” is in high demand in the humanities. This demand is largely due to the presence of many interpretations, as well as both the “non-strictness” of these interpretations, and the initial conceptualization of the concept of “memory” in this term. The term “historical memory” is inextricably linked with the definition of “memory”. Memory is a rather loose definition. The content of memory is the past, but without it it is impossible to think in the present, the past is the deep foundation of the actual process of consciousness. Mass ideas about the past persist as long as it serves the needs of the present. The craving for historical knowledge is very significant. The whole terminology of memory is characterized by ambiguity. Memory is one of the most important qualities that has always distinguished man from animals. The past for a person is the most important source for the formation of one’s own consciousness and determining a personal place in society and the world around us. Losing memory, a person loses his orientation among the environment, his social ties collapse.

Memory is not abstract knowledge of any events. Memory is life experience, knowledge of events experienced and felt, reflected emotionally.

Historical memory is a collective concept. It lies in the preservation of the public, as well as the understanding of historical experience. The collective memory of generations can be both among members of a separate family, the population of a city, and among the whole nation, country and all mankind. It is worth considering separately the concept of “memory” and the role it plays in the term “historical memory”. It is worth paying attention to the fact that historical memory is not just a channel for transmitting information about the past. This is “the most important component of the self-identification of an individual, a social group and society as a whole, because the separation of animated images of the historical past is a type of memory that is of particular importance for the constitution and integration of social groups in the present.” [25, pp. 23–24]. It is the importance of the “identifying” function of historical memory that explains the growing interest in the past in modern society. There are several stages in the development of historical memory. Historical memory, as well as individual, collective, has several stages of development.

The first stage is oblivion. After a while, people tend to forget certain events. This can happen quickly, or it can happen in a few decades. Life does not stand still, the series of episodes is not interrupted, and many of them are replaced by new impressions and emotions, a new one is written instead of the old story.

Second phase. People encounter past facts again and again in scientific articles, literary works and the media. And everywhere the interpretation of the same events can vary greatly. And not always they can be attributed to the concept of “historical memory”. Each author presents the arguments of the events in his own way, putting his own view and personal attitude into the narrative. And it doesn’t matter what topic it will be – the world war, or the consequences of a natural disaster, the memory of the people. Readers and listeners will perceive the event through the eyes of the author and the information presented can be perceived in different ways. Different versions of the presentation of the facts of the same event enable people to analyze, compare the opinions of different people and draw their own conclusions from this. The true memory of the people is able to develop only with freedom of speech, and it will be completely distorted with total censorship.

The third, most important stage in the development of people’s historical memory is the comparison of events taking place in the present time with facts from the past. The relevance of today’s problems of society can sometimes be directly related to the historical past. Interest in the past is dictated by the desire to know the truth about the past, the desire to broaden one’s horizons, the need to understand and know the roots of one’s country, one’s people, the desire to find an answer to topical questions. Only by analyzing the experience of past achievements and mistakes, a person can build a bright future.

Some scientists of the 20th century singled out and studied a number of concepts located “next door” to historical memory. For example, such as: “Social memory” and “Cultural memory”.

For the first time, the phenomenon of social memory was discussed in sociology. At the beginning of the 20th century, E. Durkheim spoke about collective ideas, including knowledge about the world, about time, about space, as well as opinions, norms of behavior that have developed in social experience. [thirteen]. Collective performances are supported by rites. Rites, E. Durkheim, defined as: “… modes of action that occur only in groups gathered together and are designed to excite, maintain or restore certain mental states of these groups.” [13, pp. 150–151]. The term “social memory” was introduced by a student of E. Durkheim and A. Bergson M. Halbwachs. [31].

When theoretically summarizing the various interpretations of social memory, we can conclude that to a large extent they contradict each other. Therefore, in order to better understand the definition, it is worth developing some kind of own classification of concepts devoted to the study of social memory. All concepts should be divided into two groups that can be identified: storage memory and practice memory.

The first group of theories, designated as “memory-storage”, includes: E. Durkheim, M. Halbwachs, J. Assman, A. Assman, Zh. T. Toshchenko, N. V. Romanovsky, M. Azariahyu, and others. [thirteen; 31; 4; 29; 27; 2]. For representatives of this group, social memory is a repository in which all information received by a person or social group throughout life is accumulated and stored. Such a definition involves studying how people belonging to the same social group form shared memories, how social memory is able to unite people, and what influences the change in social memory.

A student and follower of E. Durkheim, M. Halbwachs spoke for the first time about the phenomenon of social memory. [31]. He distinguishes two types of memories: social, which are a reflection of the life of a social group, and are shared by all members of this group, and individual, when an individual builds memories from his own point of view. Both types of memory are connected in such a way that when an individual remembers something, the content of social memory becomes a support for him. Thus, some features of social memory can be distinguished: firstly, social memory is collective. Secondly, social memory is a framework for individual memory. Thirdly, social memory also has a frame – it is an empty form that delays all memories that pass through it and are relevant to modern society. Fourth, memories (both individual and collective) are inaccurate because they are constructed by an individual or a social group. “… Since this image was intended to recreate our former perception, it turns out to be inaccurate: it is both incomplete, since unpleasant features are erased or smoothed out in it, and retroactively supplemented, since new features that we did not notice before were added to them.” [31, pp. 100–101].

J. Assman continued to study the phenomenon of social memory, however, he replaced the concept of “social memory” with two new ones: “communicative” memory and “cultural”. [4]. Communicative memory is the memory of generations, it lives as long as one generation lives, and disappears with it. This memory is natural and characteristic of all. Cultural memory captures the past in the form of symbolic figures to which memories are attached. Cultural memory includes tradition, rules and norms, in which the experience of past generations is transmitted, and it is expressed in the form of a myth, ritual, holiday. Thus, some features of cultural memory can be distinguished: firstly, it is a frame on which memories are based. Second, cultural memory has specific bearers, such as priests, shamans, teachers, writers, artists, and so on. Thus, cultural memory is a specific knowledge that only a narrow circle of people can possess. “Cultural memory is always surrounded by more or less strictly guarded boundaries. While some prove their competence <...> by present and examinations <...> or must demonstrate it through the possession of appropriate forms of communication <...>, others are not admitted to this knowledge. Accordingly, cultural memory needs control over its dissemination. [4, pp. 205–206].

Zh. T. Toshchenko considers historical memory as a layer of consciousness in which information relevant to society is stored, and as a process of preserving and reproducing the past. [29]. As the data of sociological surveys show, there are fairly stable assessments of past events in the public mind. Zh. T. Toshchenko notes that the authorities have the ability to influence historical memory through propaganda. Depending on the dominant ideology, the content of historical memory changes, that is, the authorities actively manipulate historical memory, but “attempts to influence historical memory for the sake of political and ideological interests, to change historical consciousness by and large fail.” [29, pp. 163–164]. Thus, some features of historical memory can be distinguished: firstly, historical memory, being “a certain way focused consciousness”, can be corrected, that is, under the influence of ideology, it undergoes changes. Secondly, historical memory is selective; it keeps some events while ignoring others. Thirdly, the analysis of the content of historical memory provides an indirect assessment of the past.

NV Romanovsky notes that historical sociology studies historical consciousness and historical memory. [27]. At the same time, historical memory is a part of historical consciousness. He defines historical memory as “a kind of reflection in the minds and behavior of people of the historical experience of the people, which formed really functioning values, motives, etc., is part of the public consciousness of the people.” [27, pp. 120–121]. Ethnic groups, nations and states are formed on the basis of historical memory. In this regard, it is important to maintain historical memory in order to form a collective identity. In this regard, we can talk about the politics of memory, i.e. about memory management.

M. Azariahyu talks about the reorientation of social memory in relation to Buchenwald before and after the reunification of Germany. [2]. During World War II, Buchenwald was first a German concentration camp, then became a Soviet special camp for Nazi criminals. M. Azariahyu speaks of a long process of reorientation of memory, during which the East German paradigm of memory was replaced by the Western European paradigm. The essence of this process is that historians had to form a new social memory through academic expertise.

The second group of theories, designated as “memory-practice”, includes: P. Nora, J. Derrida, M. Hagenheim, J. van Dyck, S. MacLean, Hoskins, R. H. Brown, P. Klaus, B. Latour, M. Callon, J. Lo and others [21; 12; nine; ten; nineteen; 33; sixteen; 7; eight].

P. Nora develops the idea of M. Halbwachs about the construction of memories. [21]. “The memory has completely turned into its own meticulous reconstruction. The recorded memory left the archives with the care of remembering her and multiplying the signs where she shed her dead skin like a snake. [21, p. 306]. He also notes another feature of memory-history: it needs support points, thanks to which it exists. Thus, an intermediary appears between the memory and the rememberer. This intermediary is the archive. The consequence of no more memory is the feeling that the past is irretrievably vanishing. This leads to the need to save it. “The creation of an archive has become the imperative of the era.” [21, p. 400].

P. Nora gives a new definition of memory, different from the classical understanding in the style of M. Halbwachs. According to P. Nora, memory is actually a gigantic work of dizzying ordering of material traces of what we cannot remember, and an endless list of what we may need to remember. He first drew attention to the fact that memory is not a property of something, but the result of a certain set of actions. Moreover, P. Nora draws attention to the hybrid nature of places of memory: “… mixed places, hybrids and mutants, intimately connected with life and death, with time and eternity, in a spiral of the collective and the individual, the prosaic and the sacred, the unchanging and the mobile.” [21, pp. 211–212].

J. Derrida, interpreting Freud’s theory of memory, notes that memory is the result of the work of various actors. [12]. These include: neurons; texts; a memory device located in the subconscious of a person. The memorization process can be divided into two stages. At the first stage, any event that an individual witnesses causes irritation of his nervous tissue: permeable neurons perceive the event, then, in a series of tests of forces, impenetrable neurons store this event in the form of a “memory trace”. At the second stage of memorization, a memorization apparatus is used – a “magic notebook”. This notebook allows you to save traces in unlimited quantities and for a long time.

M. Hagenheim studies the relationship between social memory and architecture. [nine]. He notes that memory is the ability of people to preserve and refresh the events of the past. He notes that memory is a process, some kind of activity. Buildings are the result of a sociotechnical network within which human and nonhuman actors operate. M. Gagenheim says that material objects serve as indicators for the production and regulation of memories. He believes that things are the “anchors” of memories, they help us remember. In collective memory, memory is created by communication, which requires constant coordination and negotiation, as many actors are included in the network of relations. He believes that objects have the ability to stabilize memories and time. M. Gagenheim says that times can mix up.

J. van Dyck considers photography as social memory in action. [ten]. He claims that memory, like photographs, can be made perfect. Memory and photography are changing in conjunction with each other, adapting to contemporary expectations and prevailing norms. Photos tell us who we are and how we want to be remembered. The ability to edit a photo – involves the management of social memory. The digital camera is an intermediary in the construction of identity and the formation of memories.

S. McLean understands social memory as a continuous process associated with the transformation and preservation of the past. [nineteen]. He notes that when studying social memory, it is necessary to pay close attention to the role of non-humans in the formation, preservation, and transformation of the image of the past. S. McLean argues that social memory is hybrid in nature, and both human and non-human actors are involved in its formation. His research focuses on the Grauballe Man. The Rake Man is a well-preserved human body dating back to the 3rd century BC found in a peat bog. S. McLean says that the swamp environment, the laboratory, photographs, x-rays, the museum, the media, scientists – all these actors support the memory.

A. Hoskins considers memory as a network object. [33]. He believes that memory is a network, a certain trajectory of connections. Such a network includes the memory of an event, the media, reporters, journalists, witnesses of the event, and people who learned about it through television or the Internet. A. Hoskins notes that the rapid advancement and availability of digital technologies, devices and media shape time, place and memory as they connect in the space of social networks. For example, the London bombing entered social memory through photo and video reports made by eyewitnesses, news and documentaries.

Theorists of the actor-network theory (B. Latour, M. Kallon, J. Lo) note the connection of memory with time and space. [sixteen]. “Sociality” and “objectivity” are seen as the result of a network of relationships. “Relationships precede every entity, both ‘social’ and ‘material’.” Social memory in the actor-network theory can be viewed from two perspectives: firstly, as a process of ordering material objects in space, mixing different times. Second, as a result of heterogeneous relationships involving humans and non-humans. One of the principles of the actor-network theory is observed: everything is created by a network of relations, and everything participates in their creation.

It is worth summing up a certain result and understanding what is meant by “social memory”. Firstly, social memory is a kind of storage in which all information is accumulated throughout the life of a social group or individual. With this definition of social memory, scientists study how people belonging to the same social group form shared memories through interaction, how social memory is able to unite people, and what influences the change in social memory. Secondly, social memory is, on the one hand, a heterogeneous network of relationships that includes people and material objects, and on the other, it is the result of this network of relationships. Despite the fact that approaches to understanding social memory may differ, it is possible to identify common features characteristic of social memory: types and functions. Types of social memory: historical, cultural and ethnic. The functions of social memory include: preservation, reproduction, fixation of memory, the ability to re-access information.

“Cultural memory” is a term that, while developing the social concept of memory, was singled out, back in the 1920s–1930s, by prominent Soviet psychologists L.S. Vygotsky and A.R. Luria. [7]. They wrote: “We deliberately dwelled in more detail on the function of memory, because it gives us the opportunity to illustrate the relationship between natural, inherent by nature, and cultural, acquired in the process of social experience, forms of mental activity. It was here that we saw how development turned out to be not just a maturation, but a cultural metamorphosis, a cultural rearmament. And if we now wanted to consider the memory of an adult cultured person, then we had to take it not as nature created it, but as culture created it. [7, p. 419].

A.N. Leontiev, a prominent Soviet psychologist, emphasized the role of the social environment as a central factor in human development: “We have seen that the memory of a modern person is not at all an elementary, purely biological property, but is an extremely complex product of a long historical development … As a result of a peculiar process of their “growing “First, external stimuli-means turn out to be able to turn into internal means, the presence of which is a specific feature of the so-called logical memory.” [8, p. 436]. The work of memory is associated with the activity of consciousness, and the productivity of memorization is characterized as a by-product of conscious, socially mediated activity. Many psychological studies show that the boundary between the individual and the collective in the workings of human memory is blurred.

The phenomenon of memory is becoming a popular object of study, as evidenced by the “memory boom” in the social sciences. An example of this is the journal Memory Studies, which has been published since 2008. The journal discusses topics such as collective memory, the ethics of remembering and forgetting, natural and artificial memory, biography and history, archives, historical memory, cultural heritage and cultural memory, oral histories and testimonies, the politics of memory, Holocaust memory, etc. d.

Thus, all of the above concepts (historical memory, social memory and cultural memory) are definitions that are close in meaning, while having one common core – memory. All the above-mentioned figures who studied these concepts, in fact, studied separate parts of one whole, the parts constituting some kind of common and unified knowledge that memory is something that unites society and helps to understand information processes that take place in the social environment. And if the social environment is singled out as a central factor in the development of a person’s personality, then memory, whether cultural, historical or social, is a kind of “repository” of all human experience, cultural values, history, etc. And in the process of socialization, the formation of a personality, a person draws this information, including from this “repository”. It can be concluded that cultural, historical and social memory occupy, if not a key role, then one of the dominant ones in the development of a person’s personality. And if we take into account the fact that the social environment that surrounds us consists of people, then all of the above concepts make a significant contribution to the development and formation of this social environment, the formation of society as a whole.

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