Conway, Brian and Spillman, Lyn
Texts, Bodies, and the Memory of Bloody Sunday.
Symbolic Interaction, 30 (1).
We examine here recent arguments that embodied experience is an
important site of collective memory, and related challenges to the
standard emphasis on discourse and symbols in collective memory
research. We argue that although theories of embodied memory offer
new insights, they are limited by (1) an overdrawn distinction between
embodied memory and textual memory that neglects the complex
relations between the two, (2) an overemphasis on ritual performance
at the expense of collective conversation, (3) an oversimplified view of
performativity, and (4) an underestimation of the ambiguity in embodied
performance. Theories of embodied collective memory should be
narrowed and specified with focused comparisons examining the
influence of embodied experience in the formation of collective identities,
in conflicts over collective memories, and in the persistence and
malleability of memories across generations. We illustrate our argument
throughout with examples drawn from the collective memory of
Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland in 1972.
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