Social memory studies: Western course, Chinese perspectives and methods

QIAN Licheng1 ZHANG Hexuan1

(1.Department of Sociology, Virginia University)

【Abstract】Starting with a review of the relevant studies in the West and China, the study here led to an overall understanding of the development and the major content of social memory studies among Western scholars, followed by an analysis of the mechanisms of memory, the different branches of memory studies, as well as a summary of three perspectives for memory studies, namely the perspective of state power, the perspective of social group and the perspective of historical transformation, adopted by Chinese academia which emphasized such concepts as state’s presence, underclass stance and institutional transformation. Four research methods were often used for memory studies, including symbols and texts, oral history and ethnography, comparative historical analysis and quantitative analysis. Finally, based on the comparative analysis of Western and Chinese memory studies, the social implications of and future possibilities for memory studies in China were discussed.

【Keywords】 social memory; cultural memory; realm of memory; state presence; underclass stance;

【DOI】

Download this article

(Translated by ZHANG Wei)

    Footnote

    [1]. ① “Memory boom” is not a research trend appeared suddenly, there was still research between Halbwachs and Nora. The influence of Annals School still existed between the 1930s and 1980s and directly made contribution to the appearance of theory of Nora. Countries in the European continent, especially Czech and Poland started the study of memories on the society from 1940s to 1960. (Kilias, 2013; Tarkowaska, 2013). [^Back]

    [2]. ② The Chinese version of Les Lieux de Memoire (Nora, 2012) translated by Dai Lijuan is translated to “realms of memory” in this article. [^Back]

    [3]. ① Other studies on holocaust will be detailed on the part of “traumatic memory.” Also Olick reminded us that although the memory studies and civilization rupture made by the holocaust closely connected, we cannot think the holocaust determine the emergence of memory studies (Olick et al., 2011). [^Back]

    [4]. ① Apart from psychology, memory studies also involve literature and other disciplines. For example, Stephen Owen analyzed the remembrances in classical Chinese literature (Owen, 2004). Due to the limited space, this article mainly analyzes memories studies in the fields of history and sociology, then others will not be detailed here. [^Back]

    [5]. ① The concept of “state presence” also was mentioned in other fields (Gao, 2001). This article is not aimed at the interpretation of this concept in details, but outlining the features of Chinese memory studies by this concept. [^Back]

    [6]. ① The comparative historical analysis represented by Skocpol is controversial in the field of historical sociology. Sewell pointed that the approach of comparative historical analysis was not an approach of history, because it neglected the relations between object A and object B (for example, Skocpol did not involve the influence of Russian Revolution on Chinese Revolution) and its constant control variables and assumption that all events were independent from each other will not be realized being divorced from the history. [^Back]

    [7]. ① Multi-layer memory includes the comparison of different memories of various generations and classes on one event. [^Back]

    References

    Assmann, Aleida & Jan Assmann in Feng, Y. & Erll, Astrid (eds.) Materialbuch zur Gedächtnisforschung, Yu, C. et al. (trans.), Beijing: Peking University Press, (2012).

    Assmann, Jan in Feng, Y. & Erll, Astrid (eds.) Materialbuch zur Gedächtnisforschung, Yu, C. et al. (trans.) Beijing: Peking University Press, (2012).

    Chen, Y. Journal of Historical Science (史学月刊), (12) (2007).

    Chen, Y. Worship and Memory: Construction and Dissemination of Sun Yat-Sen as a Symbol (崇拜与记忆:孙中山符号的建构与传播). Nanjing: Nanjing University Press, (2009).

    Fang, H. in Space· Memory· Social Transformation: Selected Essays of New Social History (空间·记忆·社会转型:“新社会史”研究论文精选集). Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Press, (2001).

    Fei, X. To Make People Wealthy: Survey from the Costal to Border Regions (志在富民:从沿海到边区的考察). Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Press, 2007.

    Gao, B. Journal of Beijing University (Philosophy and Social Science) (北京大学学报(哲学社会科学版)), (1) (2001).

    Gao, R. Chinese Journal of Sociology (社会), (3) (2015).

    Guo, Y. Social Sciences in China (中国社会科学), (4) (2003).

    Guo, Y. Sociological Studies (社会学研究), (1) (2008).

    Guo, Y. Narrations of the Sufferers: History of Jicun Village and the Cultural Logic (受苦人的讲述---骥村历史与一种文明的逻辑). Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, (2013).

    Guo, Y. & Sun, L. in Chinese Academy (中国学术), Vol. 12. Beijing: The Commercial Press, (2002).

    Halbwachs, Maurice. On Collective Memory. Bi, R。 & Guo, J. (trans.) Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Press, (2002).

    Ji, C. Journal of Contemporary China Studies, (4) (2006).

    Jing, J. Chinese Social Sciences Quarterly (Hong Kong) (中国社会科学季刊), (12) (1995).

    Connerton, Paul. How Societies Remember. Naran Bilik (trans.) Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Press, (2000).

    Li, G.Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum: The Making of Political Symbol in Modern China (中山陵:一个现代政治符号的诞生). Beijing: Social Science Academic Press, (2009).

    Li, L. Journal of Nanjing University (Philosophy, Humanities and Social Sciences) (南京大学学报(人文科学,社会科学)), (5) (2007).

    Li, M. Twenty-First Century (二十一世纪) (10): 49 (1998).

    Liu, Y. Sociological Studies (社会学研究), (2) (2003).

    Liu, Y. Chinese Journal of Sociology (社会), (5) (2010).

    Liu, Y. The Journal of Studies of China's Resistance War Against Japan (抗日战争研究), (4) (2009).

    Lu, Y. China Book Review (中国图书评论), (9) (2006).

    Luo, F. & Zhu, Y. (eds.) One hundred Years’ Memory and Interpretations of Xinhai Revolution (辛亥革命的百年记忆与诠释). Wuhan: Huazhong Normal University Press, (2011).

    Luo, Z. Journal of Sichuan University (Philosophy and Social Science Edition) (四川大学学报(哲学社会科学版)), (5) (2000).

    Naran Bilik Thinking (思想战线), (2) (2000).

    Naran Bilik Journal of Guangxi University for Nationalities (Philosophy and Social Science) (广西民族学院学报(哲学社会科学版)), (3) (2003).

    Nora, Pierre. Les Lieux de Memoire. Dai, L. (trans.) Taipei: Xingren Press, (2012).

    Sun, J. Events• Memory• Narration (事件·记忆·叙述). Hangzhou: Zhejiang People’s Press, (2004).

    Sun, J. New History: History and Memory (Vol. 8) (新史学 (第八卷): 历史与记忆). Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, (2014).

    Wang, H. & Liu, Y. Chinese Journal of Sociology (社会), (3) (2006).

    Wang, M. On Chinese Borderlands: Historical Memory and Ethnic Identity (华夏边缘(历史记忆与族群认同)). Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, (2006).

    Wang, M. Qiang Ethnic Groups between Han & Tibetan: A Study of Historical Anthropology on Chinese Borderlands (羌在汉藏之间:一个华夏边缘的历史人类学研究). Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, (2008).

    Wang, M. Heroic Ancestors and Ethnic Brothers: Texts and Contexts of Root History (英雄祖先与弟兄民族:根基历史的文本与情境). Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, (2009).

    Wu, Y. & J. David Knottnerus. Chinese Journal of Sociology (社会), (1) (2007).

    Wu, Y. & Chen, Q. Sociological Studies (社会学研究), (6) (2012).

    Ying, X. Chinese Journal of Sociology (社会), (1) (2014).

    Owen, Stephen. Remembrances: The Experience of Past in Classical Chinese Literature. Zheng X. (trans.) Beijing: Sanlian Press, (2004).

    Zhao, S. Historical Research (历史研究), (1) (2006).

    Zhao, S. & Du, Z. Journal of Beijing Normal University (Social Sciences) (北京师范大学(社会科学版)), (6) (1999).

    Zhou, H. The Politics of Memory (记忆的政治). Beijing: China Development Press, (2013).

    Zhou, X Tianjin Social Sciences (天津社会科学), (6) (2011).

    Alexander, Jeffrey 2002, “On the Social Construction of Moral Universals: The‘Holocaust’from War Crime to Trauma Drama.” European Journal of Social Theory 5(1).

    Alexander, Jeffrey, R. Eyeman, B. Giesen, N. J. Smelser & P. Sztopmpka 2004, Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Anderson, Benedict 1991, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.London: Verso.

    Armstrong, Elizabeth A. & Suzanna M. Crage 2006, “Movements and Memory: The Making of the Stonewall Myth.” American Sociological Review 71(5).

    Assmann, Jan 1995, “Collective Memory and Cultural Identity.” New German Critique, No. 65, Cultural History/Cultural Studies (Spring-Summer).

    Bartmanski, Dominik 2011, “Successful Icons of Failed Time: Rethinking Post-Communist Nostalgia.” Acta Sociologica 54.

    Blacker, Uilleam & Alexander Etkind 2013, “Introduction.” In Uilleam Blacker, Alexander Etkind & Julie Fedor(eds.), Memory and Theory in Eastern Europe. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Bloch, Marc 2011, “Collective Memory,Custom,and Tradition: About a Recent Book.” In J. K. Olick, V. Vinitzky-Seroussi & D. Levy(eds.), The Collective Memory Reader. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Blondel, Charles 2011, “Critical Review of M.Halbwachs Les cadres sciaux de la mémoire.” In J. K. Olick, V. Vinitzky-Seroussi & D.Levy(eds.), The Collective Memory Reader. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Burke, Peter 1989, “History as Social Memory.” In T. Butler(ed.), Memory: History, Culture and the Mind. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell.

    Chan, Anita 1993, “‘Revolution or Corporation’? Workers and Trade Unions in Post-Mao China.” The Australian Journal of Chinese Affaires 29.

    Collingwood, George 1993, The Idea of History. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Duara, Prasenjit 1995, Rescuing History from the Nation: Questioning Narratives of Modern China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Erll, Astrid 2011a, Memory in Culture. Trans. By Sara Young. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Erll, Astrid 2011b, “Traveling Memory.” Parallax 17(4).

    Fine, Gary A. 1996,“Reputational Entrepreneurs and the Memory of Incompetence: Melting Supporters, Partisan Warriors, and Images of President Harding.” American Journal of Sociology 101(5).

    Fine, Gary A. 2001, Difficult Reputations: Collective Memories of the Evil, Inept, and Controversial.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Gillis, John R. 1994, Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity. Edited by J. R. Gillis. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

    Halbwachs, Maurice 1992, On Collective Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Hobsbawm, Eric & Terence Ranger (eds.) 1983, The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Jansen, Robert S. 2007, “Resurrection and Appropriation: Reputational Trajectories, Memory Work, and the Political Use of Historical Figures.” American Journal of Sociology 112(4).

    Jing, Jun 1996, The Temple of Memories: History, Power, and Morality in a Chinese Village. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

    Judt, Tony 1996, “The Past is Another Country: Myth and Memory in Postwar Europe.” Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 87.

    Kammen, Michael 1995,“Frames of Remembrance: The Dynamics of Collective Memory.” History and Theory 34(3).

    Kilias, Jaroslaw 2013, “Is There any Sociological Tradition of Social Memory Research? The Polish and the Czech Case.” Polish Sociological Review 183.

    Lang, Gladys Engel & Kurt Lang 1988, “Recognition and Renown:The Survival of Artistic Reputation.” American Journal of Sociology 94(1).

    Lang, Gladys Engel & Kurt Lang 1990, Etched in Memory: The Building and Survival of Artistic Reputation. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

    Lee, Ching Kwan 2007,“What Was Socialism to Chinese Workers? Collective Memories and Labor Politics in an Age of Reform.”In Ching Kwan Lee & Guobin Yang(eds.), Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution:The Politics and Poetics of Collective Memories in Reform China.Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Le Goff, Jacques 1992, History and Memory. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Levy, Daniel & Natan Sznaider 2006,The Holocaust and Memory in the Global Age. Trans. By Assenka Oksiloff. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    Levy, Daniel & Natan Sznaider 2007, “The Cosmopolitanization of Holocaust Memory: From Jewish to Human Experience.”

    In Judith Gerson & Diane Wolf(eds.), Sociology Confronts the Holocaust: Memories and

    Identities in Jewish Diasporas. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

    Mannheim, Karl 1952,“The Problem of Generations.”In Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    Mantelero, Alessandro 2013, “The EU Proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation and the Roots of the‘Right to be Forgotten’.” Computer Law and Security Review 29(3).

    Mark, James 2010, The Unfinished Revolution: Making Sense of the Communist Past in Central Eastern Europe. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Muller, Jan-Werner 2002, Memory and Power in Post-war Europe: Studies in the Presence of the Past. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Nora, Pierre (ed.) 1984-1992, Les Lieux De Mémoire. Paris: Les Frances, La Republique, Le Nation. 7 Vols.

    Nora, Pierre (ed.) 1989, “Between Memory and History:Les lieux de mémoire.” Representations 26.

    Oi, Jean 1999, Rural China Takes off: Institutional Foundations of Economic Reform. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Olick, Jeffrey K. 1999a, “Collective Memory: The Two Cultures.” Sociological Theory 17(3).

    Olick, Jeffrey K. 1999b, “Genre Memories and Memory Genres: A Dialogical Analysis of May 8, 1945 Commemorations in the Federal Republic of Germany.”American Sociological Review 64(3).

    Olick, Jeffrey K. 2003, States of Memory: Continuities, Conflicts, and Transformations in National Retrospection. Edited by J. K. Olick. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Olick, Jeffrey K. 2005, In the House of the Hangman: The Agonies of German Defeat, 1943-1949. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Olick, Jeffrey K. 2007, The Politics of Regret: On Collective Memory and Historical Responsibility. New York: Routledge.

    Olick, Jeffrey K. & Joyce Robbins 1998,“Social Memory Studies: From‘Collective Memory’to the Historical Sociology of Mnemonic Practices.”Annual Review of Sociology 24.

    Olick, Jeffrey K., Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi & Daniel Levy 2011, The Collective Memory Reader. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Perry, Elizabeth J.1993, “China in 1992: An Experiment in Neo-Authoritarianism.” Asian Survey33(1).

    Sanford,George 2005, Katyn and the Soviet Massacre of 1940: Truth, Justice and Memory.London and New York: Routledge.

    Shils, Edward 1981, Tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Schuman, Howard & Amy D. Corning 2000, “Collective Knowledge of Public Events: The Soviet Era from the Great Purge to Glasnost.”American Journal of Sociology 105(4).

    Schuman, Howard&Jacqueline Scott 1989, “Generations and Collective Memories.” American Sociological Review 54.

    Schwartz, Barry 1987, George Washington: The Making of an American Symbol. New York: The Free Press.

    Schwartz, Barry 1991,“Social Change and Collective Memory: The Democratization of George Washington.”American Sociological Review 56(2).

    Schwartz, Barry 1996,“Memory as a Cultural System: Abraham Lincoln in World War II.” American Sociological Review 61(5).

    Schwartz, Barry 2008, Abraham Lincoln in the Post-heroic Era: History and Memory in Late Twentieth-century America.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Sewell, William 2005,“Three Temporalities: Toward an Eventful Sociology.”In W. Sewell(ed.), Logics of History:Social Theory and Social Transformation. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

    Simko, Christina 2012,“Rhetorics of Suffering: September 11 Commemorations as Theodicy.” American Sociological Review 77(6).

    Skocpol, Theda 1984, Vision and Method in Historical Sociology.Edited by T. Skocpol. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Tarkowska,Elzbieta 2013, “Collective Memory,Social Time and Culture: The Polish Tradition in Memory Studies.” Polish Sociological Review 3(183).

    Tulving,Endel 1995, “Organization of Memory:Quo vadis.”In Michael S. Gazzaniga (ed.), The Cognitive Neurosciences. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

    Vinitzky-Seroussi, Vered 2002, “Commemorating a Difficult Past: Yitzhak Rabin's Memorials.” American Sociological Review 67(1).

    Wagner-Pacifici, Robin & Barry Schwartz 1991, “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Commemorating a Difficult Past.” American Journal of Sociology 97(2).

    Walder, Andrew G. 1988, Communist Neo-traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Weber, Max 1946, “The Social Psychology of the World Religions.” In From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Zerubavel, Eivatar 1981, Hidden Rhythms: Schedules and Calendars in Social Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Zerubavel, Eivatar 1982, “Easter and Passover: On Calendars and Group Identity.” American Sociological Review 47(2).

    Zerubavel, Yael 1995,Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Zhurzhenko, Tatiana 2011, “‘Capital of Despair’: Holodomor Memory and Political Conflicts in Kharkiv after the Orange Revolution.” East European Politics and Societies 25(3).

This Article

ISSN:1002-5936

CN: 11-1100/C

Vol 30, No. 06, Pages 215-237+246

November 2015

Downloads:3

Share
Article Outline

Abstract

  • 1 Introduction: memory boom and memory studies
  • 2 Western memory studies: contents and genealogy
  • 3 Memory studies in China: perspectives and characteristics
  • 4 Four approaches to social memory studies
  • 5 Conclusion: social significance and future research
  • Footnote

    References