In Lieu of Mémoire

We can link the acclaimed 'return of the narrative' evident in recent historical writing and omnipotence of imagery and cinema in contemporary culture -- even if, to be sure, this narrative is very different from traditional narrative, with its syncopated parts and formal closure. How can we not connect our scrupulous respect for archival documents, themselves fragments put before our eyes, and the unique frame we give to oral literature, quoting informants to render intelligible their voices -- are they not clearly connected to the sense of directness that we have become accustomed to elsewhere?
-- Pierre Nora, "Between Memory and History", p. 17
One of the interesting (frustrating, energizing) aspects of working on a dissertation is the opportunity it provides to revisit old material. Have been reading Pierre Nora's essay again this morning and realizing how much it speaks to the peculiar nature of my own research project. How, to whom, and for whom am I trying to make the past speak?

Another note from my journals: "How do we keep the past as a kind of continuous thing, something that stays with us, the past something durable -- and yet mobile too -- " (Feb. 4, 2013)


Popular Posts