2006 | 50 | 1-2 | 177-196
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The notion of memory, perceived as an important cognitive category and basic concept in anthropological studies, has recently found its central place in the area of interest of ethnologists and anthropologists. They emphasize the importance of memory for the stability of communities, for cultural transmission as well as for preserving cultural heritage and cultural identity of groups. Worth mentioning is the analysis of the relationship between memory and narratives. Different kinds of memory have been distinguished here: memoria, post-memory, counter-memory, axiological memory, etc. According to the authoress' opinion the participants of the 'discourse on memory' in social sciences seem not to remember that, for researchers dealing with cultural studies, memory has always been considered a source of knowledge. However, it was treated in an instrumental way, its existence didn't require any deeper reflection. It was the content of tradition (both oral and written) that mattered. Particular parts of reality, which couldn't be reached by informant's memory and/or simply forgotten were pointed out as limitations not allowing to experience them. At the turn of the 1980s and 1990s the period of essential economic and social transformations began in Central and Eastern Europe (the Berlin Wall was pulled down, Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc collapsed). The transformations seem to continue till now. They are accompanied by the biographical boom and reflection not only on history of particular states and nations but also on narratives concerning that history. Need of 'filling in the missing pages' of history was often emphasized. Silence was broken concerning dramatic experiences of groups and individuals, before and during the WW II as well as in communist times. Not everybody wants to remember the past and doesn't aim at acquiring true knowledge about it. Moreover, different ways of perceiving the same historical events may cause divisions and conflicts. The example mentioned here is the case of Lithuanians and Poles living in the Republic of Lithuania. In all post-communist countries the first, euphoric period after the change of the system was followed by the phenomenon of nostalgia for the former socialist time. It is opposed to the present time and is presented as the happy days of welfare state when there was no unemployment and 'the ordinary man' was paid salary sufficient to buy more cheap goods than now. Another feature of that imagined past are good interpersonal relationships. However, the phenomenon of nostalgia is not limited to the countries belonging once to the Soviet bloc. Chantal Mouffe points out that it can be noticed in many different countries among those social groups that can't cope with the new reality. Many young people (20-30 years) interviewed by the authoress say that they would like to live in 'good socialist times'. First of all because of: lack of unemployment, social security, cheap goods, general predictability, hope for better future. Question arises, whether all the negative aspects of quite recent past were forgotten or the young people simply kept in their memory only what was important for them? What are the mechanisms determining the subject of a narrative and what remains in the memory of both the narrator and the listeners?
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  • I. Kabzinska, Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, al. Solidarnosci 105, 00-140 Warszawa, Poland
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