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Burn a Country's Past and You Torch Its Future

Blog posts

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Keywords
Triple Keywords
Mythology
Myths
Manners and customs
Usages
Folkways
Traditions
Social life and customs
Customs, Social
Ceremonies
Social customs
Annals
History
Diplomatics
Documents
Volition
Conation
Will
Retention (Psychology)
Memory
Cult
Cultus
Worship
Possibility
Barbarism
Civilisation
Civilization
Worth
Values
Axiology

Abstract

<![CDATA[National libraries and museums provide the material from which national identities are built. There are other sources, too -- myths, ceremonies and the other forms of culture studied by anthropologists. But complex societies have been through so much that their history requires constant reassessment. Destroy the documents, and you will damage the collective memory, the sense of self that derives from the ties that bind a people to their ancestors. Libraries and museums are not temples for ancestor worship, but they are crucial for the task of knowing who you are by knowing who you were. That kind of knowledge must be continuously reworked. Destroy the possibility of replenishing it, and you can strangle a civilization. The article by Princeton historian Robert Darnton on the destruction of the Baghdad National Library is worth to be read in full. ]]>

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