Tamar Katriel Sites of Memory | Museum | Science

February 23, 2016 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Documents
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eritage museums have becom e a pervasive feaLUre of the cu ltura l landscapes of contemporar y Weste rn socie ties. Recogni zing their emergence as increasin gly important arenas for cullUra l production a nd ideological assertio n . co nsid era ble scho larl y 3uention has bee n dircClcd in recent years to th e exam ination of the ro le of the " he rita ge industry" in the context o f natio nalism and touristic practices. l As MacCannell has argued, museu ill S a nd hisLOrical siles ser ve to anchor the "secular pilgrim ages" undertaken by modern to urist- pilgrims.' Th ro ugh a process of "sight sacralization ," :l museums and sites th us become cultural enclaves whose aura of timeless stabi li ty sland s in sha rp co ntrast to a wo rl d marked by an ethos of change a nd the "accelera ti o n of histo r y:' I Des pite th e e normous the matic a nd p resen tatio na l va ri ations found amon g heri tage m useums in diffe rent co untries a nd regions o f the world, the y a ll share some bas ic features in t he ir orie ntation toward a collecti ve past. It is to th e ex ploratio n o f this shared o ri e ntation that this stud y is devoted. The main cOIlce p· tual point to be ex plo r ed re lates to an ana lyti c distin ction e labo rated by historians in rece nt years between what th ey co nce ive of as two funda m entall y op posed o ri e nta· tions to t he pas t: the first is a " me mo ry o rientation " whi ch in vo lves the in voca tion of the past through r itu alized actions des ig ned to crea te an a-te m poral se nse of the presence of th e pas t in the prese nt- in ot her wo r ds. the past m yth ologized. The second is a " histori cal orie ntatio n ," which in vo lves a re fl ec ti ve exp loration or past eve nts cons ide red alo ng an ax is o f irreve r sibl e, lin ear te mp o rality, with a view to und e rstanding th e ir situaLed particularity, th e ir causes and co nsequen ces. HistOl-i· ail s Na ta li e Zemon Davis a nd Rand o lph Starn summari ze the differen ce between these two orie ntatio ns as fo llows: "Against m emo r y's deligh t in similarity, appea l LO th e e m o ti o ns, a nd a r bitrary selectivit y. histo r y wo uld stand for critica l dista nce a nd d oc um e n ted exp lanatio n ."5 A closer look at act ua l histo r y. makin g practices, however, suggests tha t t he anal ytic categori es or '-history" a nd " me mo r y" Ca n be viewed as dial ecticall y related: a. hi stori ca l o r ientatio n bOlh bu ilds on a nd tra nscends indi vidual me m o r y, and a memor y o rientati o n bOlh inco rp o ral es a nd rerashions hi sto r ical know led ge in


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making it part of an encompassing, commemorative project. In what follows, I will try to sho\\l how these two orientations combine to produce richly textured dis ~ courses ofthe past in Israeli pioneering settlement museums. In so doing, I draw on th e basic insight of historian Pierre Nora, who elaborated the analytic distinction between the categories of memory and history, yet pointed oul their interdependence: Memory is life, borne by living societies founded in its nam~ . It remains in pe rm anent evolution, open to the dialecti c ofrcmembcring and forgetting . unco nscious of it s successive deformation s, vulnerable [0 manipulatio n an d appropriation. susceptible to bein g long dormant and periodicall y revived . Hiswry. on the other hand. is the reconstruction, always probl e matic and incomplete, orwhat is no longer. Memory is a perpetually ac tual phenom enon . a bond tyin g us to the eterna l prese nt; history is a represelll3tion orthe past. Memory insorar as it is affective and magical , only anects those faCES that suit it. . History, beca use it is an intellectual and sec ular produCtion. ca lls for analysis and criticism.. . Memory lakes root in the concrete. in spaces. gestures , im ages and objects; history binds itself stdcdy 10 te mporal co ntinuities , 10 progressio ns and to relatio ns bel ween things. Memory is absolute, ] while history can only conceive the relative .. . .6

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These very different orie ntations to the past co-exist as part of our cultural consciousness, and each contributes differentially lO our experience of both past and present. In considering the role played by the heritage industry as a major institutionalized form for re-presenting the past in contemporary societies, we must, therefore, attend to the inherent tension associated with the memory-history dialectic, and with the loca lized inAections it assumes in particular sociocultural contexts. Historiographical research addresses issues related to the re-presentation of the past in the context of history-writing. From a cu ltura l perspective, however, an interest in the role played by the past in the present must clearly take us beyond the context of official histor y- writing, and explore other social contexts in wh ich the past is re-invoked or re-presented, Heritage Illuseums and sites are clearly good candidates for such an exploration. Notably, the dia lectical tension between me mory and history that has concerned contemporar y historians has also been a central theme in mode rn Jewish thought.1 As Ye ru shalm i reminds us, in the case of the Jews, knowledge of the past has been traditionally transmitted in a much more significant way by means of communa lly shared ritual practices than by means of the historical narrative. This array of ritual practices has nOt served to re-present events of the shared past from a stance of 71 critical reRection, but rathe r to re-invoke a series of timeless existential slates .n....'. ... . i' participants are in vited to re-live. This idiom o f personal identification is reAected~ \,...y ...... ' inter alia , in the use of the first person singular on some of these liturgical occasions ~1~' (e.g., in the context of the Passover ritual celebration, the Seder, each parLicipant speaks or himselr or herselr as having personally come out of Egypt). In traditional Jewish thought, therefore, the main interestiies in the significance of past events rathe l' than in the concrete deta ils of their unfolding, and the particularity of new events is subordinated to well-recognized archetypal pauerns. The secu lar'ization of J ew ish histor y in the wake of th e Jewish Enlightenment movement of the 19th century has marked a rupture in Jewish cultural experience, which involved, inter alia, a shift toward s a concern with the historicity of the past rather than With I1S e ternal , ntuallzed presence . As Yerushalmi pOInts out, "Western man's dlscovel Y ofhlstol Y IS not d mere Inte l es till the past, whICh has always eX isted,


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