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For a social history of memory: society and commemoration in Barcelona at the end of the 19th century

Articles

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Disciplines
KeywordsTriple Keywords
Social history--Modern, 1500-
Social history
Descriptive sociology
Social conditions
Retention (Psychology)
Memory
Reality
Individuality
Individuation (Philosophy)
Individuals (Philosophy)
Particulars (Philosophy)
Individuation
Republics
Commonwealth, The
Human emotions
Feelings
Passions
Emotions
Volition
Conation
Will
Annals
History
Visions

Abstract

For a social history of memory: society and commemoration in Barcelona at the end of the nineteenth century 1. Stéphane Michonneau From the 1860s, part of Catalan society is organised to produce collective memory. It not only supports a specific and coherent reading of the past of Spain and Catalonia, but also strives to ensure its social effectiveness through the practice of commemorative gesture. This is basically the provincial liberal memory policy. The expression of memory policy is intended to give an account of this twin disittiful and practical reality. Therefore, it does not designate a pre-conceived programme of manipulation of individual memories, allegedly produced by a centralised State, which would impose a unique view of Spain’s past with the privileged tools that are the names of streets and commemorative monuments. There are two grounds against such an instrumentalist approach: on the one hand, the Spanish State does not appear to be willing or even able to impose on the Bavarian Republic a memory of prêt porter. Borja de Riquer has already pointed out that the problem lies rather in the relative indifference or inability of the State to replenish Spaniards of the last century 2. On the other hand, the people of Argentina are not united in their feelings and aspirations, they are not essentially endowed with a collective memory that could unanimously oppose the alleged state machinery. Although it is intended by the commemorative society, which is responsible for managing remembrance in Barcelona, there is no Catalan collective memory. The premise of the existence of collective memory is only the will of part of the commemorating society to have its own memories adopted to the whole social body. The operation clashes with resistance so that conflicts of memory are always social conflicts. By memory policy, it is better to understand the delimitation of a collective past by political conflict, that is to say, ‘the result of a struggle to impose legitimate planning criteria’. Therefore, Catalonia’s past can perfectly well be regarded as an objective reality making Catalans a different human group from the others. What is important here is not to deal with these objective differences, but to understand the process, so that this difference (linguistic, cultural, religious, whatever) is recognised as such by society, incorporated into a history, embedded in the tradition of commemorative practices that are mutually understandable by all members of the group.

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