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The uses of memory in African studies

The uses of memory in African studies Since the 1950's, African specialists have used memory both as a tool and as an object of research. Anthropologists were finally becoming aware that all social interaction inherently contains ambiguity and conflict and were coming to terms with the impact of colonialism. They started taking a productive interest in what societies, in their present practice, had to say about and make of their past. Roger Bastide (Les religions africaines au Brésil) made collective memory and its functioning the heart of a rich sociological study, situated in a long historical context. At the same time, historians were starting to write the history of Africa, an effort largely made possible by a tradition of oral transmission. The first consideration was the documentary usefulness of this oral tradition, more or less institutionalized. Historians evaluated these oral sources according to technical criteria, in order to write source critiques. But the nature of the work led to a changed focus. Historians reduced their emphasis on the gathering of factual data and started treating that data with greater skepticism. They also started to strongly repudiate the implicit model of written sources and archives. They became, instead, more concerned with the various forms of memory and fascinated with the analysis of the workings of memory itself in society, and with what new historical information lay hidden in people's memories. Life histories, and personal memories are also used today. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History and Anthropology Taylor & Francis

The uses of memory in African studies

History and Anthropology , Volume 2 (2): 10 – Jan 1, 1986

The uses of memory in African studies

History and Anthropology , Volume 2 (2): 10 – Jan 1, 1986

Abstract

Since the 1950's, African specialists have used memory both as a tool and as an object of research. Anthropologists were finally becoming aware that all social interaction inherently contains ambiguity and conflict and were coming to terms with the impact of colonialism. They started taking a productive interest in what societies, in their present practice, had to say about and make of their past. Roger Bastide (Les religions africaines au Brésil) made collective memory and its functioning the heart of a rich sociological study, situated in a long historical context. At the same time, historians were starting to write the history of Africa, an effort largely made possible by a tradition of oral transmission. The first consideration was the documentary usefulness of this oral tradition, more or less institutionalized. Historians evaluated these oral sources according to technical criteria, in order to write source critiques. But the nature of the work led to a changed focus. Historians reduced their emphasis on the gathering of factual data and started treating that data with greater skepticism. They also started to strongly repudiate the implicit model of written sources and archives. They became, instead, more concerned with the various forms of memory and fascinated with the analysis of the workings of memory itself in society, and with what new historical information lay hidden in people's memories. Life histories, and personal memories are also used today.

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References (18)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1477-2612
eISSN
0275-7206
DOI
10.1080/02757206.1986.9960774
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Since the 1950's, African specialists have used memory both as a tool and as an object of research. Anthropologists were finally becoming aware that all social interaction inherently contains ambiguity and conflict and were coming to terms with the impact of colonialism. They started taking a productive interest in what societies, in their present practice, had to say about and make of their past. Roger Bastide (Les religions africaines au Brésil) made collective memory and its functioning the heart of a rich sociological study, situated in a long historical context. At the same time, historians were starting to write the history of Africa, an effort largely made possible by a tradition of oral transmission. The first consideration was the documentary usefulness of this oral tradition, more or less institutionalized. Historians evaluated these oral sources according to technical criteria, in order to write source critiques. But the nature of the work led to a changed focus. Historians reduced their emphasis on the gathering of factual data and started treating that data with greater skepticism. They also started to strongly repudiate the implicit model of written sources and archives. They became, instead, more concerned with the various forms of memory and fascinated with the analysis of the workings of memory itself in society, and with what new historical information lay hidden in people's memories. Life histories, and personal memories are also used today.

Journal

History and AnthropologyTaylor & Francis

Published: Jan 1, 1986

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