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In the end of the nineteenth century, research experiments were carried out on memory. In this period, the memory dominated by the symbol of evolutionary development in nature. In nineteenth century, many new technologies were developed such as radiography, photography and cinema cameras to recall and preserve memory. "Memorializing the achievements of individuals considered as members of families is the earliest popular use of photography" (Sontag, 2001, p. 43).
These new ways to store the historical events increased the archives and documents. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a feeling of anxiety could be seen in the people because of the interruption in the use of the traditional forms of memory.
In traditional societies, people could easily interpret the past and their behavior and they could easily and openly carry their past and its meanings. On the other hand, in modern societies, the people were disconnected from their past which made their past less transparent and it made difficult for them to understand their past. This caused the increased in the crisis of memory and as a result it caused great disturbance for the European societies when they were going through industrialization, modernization and urbanization.
Memory in Today's World
Modern societies provide people an opportunity that they can associate themselves with different groups and they can keep several set of different identities. In such cultures, social memories are not limited but they overlap and are multilayered.
The end of the twentieth century comes with the memory crisis. Modern societies are described as "terminally ill with amnesia" (Huyssen, 1995, p. 1) because the only thing they remember is the anniversaries and celebrations from the past and they don't have any historical knowledge. On the other hand they are also described as the people who wanted to go to the museums and exhibitions.
Nowadays it is possible that we can access libraries and archives digitally. There are new ways to produce, store, and collect memories. "These new developments have been preparing us for the arrival of cosmopolitan memory" (Levy and Sznaider, 2002).
Physiological Memory Systems
The study of cultural memory depends upon previous psychological physiological version of individual memory. According to Kandel, "our memory may be located in the synapse and to neurophysiology with the claim that changes in synaptic function are fundamental in the formation of different types of memory."
There are two approaches to understand the body the anatomical and the physiological and the difference between the two approaches is that the former state that the memory is located somewhere in brain and the latter state that it consists in a global mental function. The anatomical approach has extreme implications therefore the experience of memory was then explained using physiological approach.
The fundamental issues faced during the memory investigation is the appropriate position of departure that is whether memory needs to be structurally approached or functionally? The initial approach, distinctiveness of traditional anatomical medical research traces the place where memory is situated with the brain. However, the second one tries its best to define the purpose and the function of the memory stored. Both of these approaches are said to be complementary but this precise relation between physiology and anatomy of the memory remain as it is in question and open for debate.
The difference between the approaches of physiology and anatomy in order to understand the body can be outlined in the work of them most important people in medicine history, Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) and William Harvey (1578-1657)
After physical understanding the memory, number of findings has been generated and memory is widely accepted as physically dynamic system. The physiology and anatomy of memory are quite understood now as compared to twenty years ago. Edelman and Kandel's approaches of micro and macro neural complement in various ways logically as well as complementary to the memory problem.
Cultural memory and communicative memory
There are some other types of memories as well out of which we will be discussing Cultural memory and communicative memory.
This memory is basically the collective output of our day-to-day communication. Our day-to-day communication can be categorized as thematic instability, reciprocity of various roles, and disorganization. It usually take place among different individuals such as partners, for example, who can basically change their roles as in speaker and listener in which one is sharing a joke, gossip, experiences or their memory. These usually occur on several occasions such as while you are travelling through a plane, or sitting in a waiting area or may be over the dinner. Most of the time, it takes place within your home. This type of communication give rise to a type of memory which is divided in to 2 sub-types; a) socially mediated, b) group related.
Every person memory comprises with communication with other people. Here "other" people are referred as groups of people who are united together because they share same identity or perception which is created because of their past experience. These groups can be categorized as your family, neighbors, professional group, affiliation and associations and political parties etc. all of us belong to these types of groups and ultimately we develop some great collective memories which are usually shared when this group of people unites together.
Cultural memory is different from communicative memory or we can simply put it in this way that it is the opposite of communicative memory; it is distinguished by the distance from day-to-day. Cultural memory is based on its fix points; its perspective does not alter or change along with the passage of time. These fix points are basically driver from some fateful events which occurred in the past, the memory which is preserved by the help of cultural formation like texts or monuments as well as institutional communication like practices, recitation and observations. These are known as "memory figures." Even after ages if only a part of that particular event come to your mind or you encounter any other specific thing associated with that event the whole thing will come right away in your mind just like a movie clip.
Characteristics of cultural memory
1. Identity concentration -- or we can say association with a group. Cultural memory maintains a pool of knowledge which is referred back by a group in order to have awareness about their peculiarity and unity. According to Hans Mol, " the inevitable egoism of cultural memory that derives from the "need for identity" (Hans Mol) takes on dangerous forms, if the representations of alterity, in their relation to the representations of identity (self-images), become images of an enemy" (Hans Mol, 1976)
2. Reconstruction Capacity -- memory cannot preserve any past thing. The only thing which actually remains is the society where one can rebuild it with the help of some reference. Cultural memory work in such a manner that it continuously restructures and relate the knowledge it has with the situations which are real and contemporary. Cultural memory survives in two phases: first in the form of archived information and second in actuality mode where every existing perspective adds a meaning with its own context, giving relevance of its own.
3. Formation -- the crystallization of the meaning communicated and the knowledge which is collectively shared is the requirement of its broadcast in the society. Stable formation does not only depend on any one medium for example writing. Other sources like, rituals or pictorial images might also perform the same function.
4. Organization -- this mean, i) institutional strengthening of communication, ii) the specialty of cultural memory's barriers. The allocation and arrangement of participation are diffuse in communicative memory.
5. Duty -- the relation of a group's self-image prompts a clear structure of values and demarcations in importance, structuring the supply of cultural knowledge as well as symbols. There are some important or insignificant, central and marginal, local and general symbols, which depends on how they perform their task in production, demonstration along with self-image's reproduction.
The binding quality of preserved knowledge of cultural memory is divided into two parts: formative and normative. Formative functions with respect to its education, civilization and humanitarian mode. Normative functions with presenting rules of conduct.
6. Reflexive -- Cultural memory can be categorized as reflexive by three means:
a. Practice-reflexive: it understands general practice with the help of proverbs, ethno-theories, maxims, rituals (for example, sacrificial means which understands the hunting practice) and so on.
b. Self- reflexive: it illustrates itself in order to explain, criticize, surpass, censure, distinguish, control, reinterpret.
c. Image- reflexive: reflexive of own image by representing self-image of a group through obsession with its own social structure.
Edward de Bono very nicely quoted, "A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely un-happen." It is quite obvious that not all memories add up in history. It is also of equal certainty that histories are not self generated. Thus there is always…[continue]
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