Reflections on Editing the Collective Memory Reader
Sociology University of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Sociology and Anthropology Hebrew University of Jerusalem Jerusalem, Israel
Sociology Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY, USA
Social memory studies, Olick and Robbins wrote in 1998, is "a non-paradigmatic, transdisciplinary, centerless enterprise." Has the situation improved in the last ten years, in which we have witnessed a veritable explosion of writing on collective memory and its correlates? We argue that it has not, because, as that review also stated, social memory studies has ironically not developed a memory of its own. In this paper, we explore the challenges we faced in editing The Collective Memory Reader, to be published later this year by Oxford University Press. Is it possible to define a field, identify exemplars, and to construct a canon without reducing creativity and excluding difference? More mundanely, what works have we considered essential, and how did we go about drawing boundaries?