The publication of memory – from the Via crucis to the terrorist memorial

Göran Sonesson

Punctum, 5(2): 11-28, 2019
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2019.0020


The notion of memory is ambiguous in multiple ways. It can be an event, an act of memory; or it can consist of a structure conserving and organizing a set of facts. In the first case, it may involve the automatic retention of the ‘just evolved’ moment in the stream of consciousness, or it can be a deliberate act with a purpose to build up, or to search, the space of recorded facts. In the second case, the information can be accumulated in the brain, as an endogram, or in an object independent of the body, as an artefact or an exogram. Elsewhere, I have suggested that the photograph, at least from the Instamatic to the selfie, partakes of several of these kinds of memory. The same could be said about the monument, although the latter necessarily involves a public dimension. Maurice Halbwachs and Alfred Schütz have written enlightening things about collective memory which are worth exploring. None of them, however, were able, at the time, to take into account the difference between two kinds of publication of memory: the official one, which is what first comes to mind, epitomized in war monuments or in the monuments of the Holocaust; and, on the other hand, the monuments erected on places where terrorist acts have occurred, which become public events only because of the concurrence of many individual acts of commemoration, which is not to say that they are not socially conditioned. The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the second kind of memorial publication.

KEYWORDS: Monument, Memory, Relevancies, Public Space, Consciousness
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