January 29, 2014

Historiography and Memory

Are these fields the inverse of each other? Some reflections on what I've been thinking...

Historiography evaluates extant methodologies and historical philosophies with the goal of producing new representations of the past, aka memorializations.

Memory Studies evaluate extant representations of the past with the goal of understanding how and why memorializations were produced in particular ways, aka historiographically.

Historiography as a field is concerned with validity, reliability, and authenticity. Even postmodern historiographers focus on how to say things that can be justifiably said. Their primary goal is to identify and prescribe effective methodology.

Memory Studies as a field is concerned with expression, polemic, and the construction of identity. Memory theorists may or may not seek to uncover how memory reflects the actual past. Their primary goal is to reconstruct what memories tell us about the memorializers themselves.

Historiography is an attempt to be thoughtful and prudent in selecting best practice in reconstructing the past, aka producing "objective or at least neutral" Memorializations.

Memory Theory is an attempt to extract the psycho-social factors behind the more unreflective or less self-critical efforts at preserving "important cultural" or personally meaningful History.

In short, Historiography is academic Memorialization [*in prospect] and Memorializing is colloquial Historiography [*in retrospect].

Or something like that... But they definitely seem like inversions of one another, in some ways, or to some extent. 

What do you think?

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