Sunday 8 January 2012

Memory is not history: interview with Prof. Saulius Sužiedėlis.

From an interviu with Prof. Saulius Sužiedėlis by Zigmas Vitkus.

Memory is not history. I understand memory in rather simple terms: memory is what people remember, or - more specifically - what they say they remember. Sometimes it comes from a personal experience, sometimes from stories. I separate personal memory from collective memory, because the latter one often acquires mythologial features. I understand history as a science in terms of historical analysis and reconstruction, based on certain research methods acknowledeged by research institutes. It is a kind of reflective, questioning and critical relationship with past, open to further interpretations.

Sometimes history and authentic historical memory get compromised. It may happen, when traumatized collective conscience needs explanations, to relieve a psychological burden of painful experiences. This forms favorable conditions to the rise of oppressive stereotypes and myths. I think it is important to avoid ideological statements when we talk about wars, occupations, resistence, genocide. These are the subjects that have an obvious moral and ethical context. Indeed, whenever we talk about a widespread brutality, especially when it concerns those close to us, we do ask the question “what are we - good or evil?”. I believe, that we need to project our history from a variety of angles  to avoid selecting the facts favourible to a specific interpretation. Only then our memory traditions (culture) will improve.

from Bernardinai 12/01/02

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