This introductory chapter looks at memory as a highly selective process in the present. Exploring sites of memory related to painful histories, such as colonialism and totalitarian rule, it situates memory between individual recollection and cultural recall. By foregrounding the political stakes and contestations surrounding the production of memory, Starzmann seeks to debunk the myth that memories must be unchallenged and coherent in order to be meaningful to social actors. In doing so, she analyzes how social memories are not only inscribed with meaning, but are also marked by silences and erasures. Relying on an archaeological metaphor, she argues that by excavating the layered nature of memories we will be better able to understand the workings of power in memory politics; that is, just as the production of coherent memories occurs as part of a political strategy, so too does their fragmentation and disruption.
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