Texts, Bodies, and the Memory of Bloody Sunday
Conway, Brian and Spillman, Lyn (2007) Texts, Bodies, and the Memory of Bloody Sunday. Symbolic Interaction, 30 (1).
We examine here recent arguments that embodied experience is an important site of collective memory, and related challenges to the standard emphasis on discourse and symbols in collective memory research. We argue that although theories of embodied memory offer new insights, they are limited by (1) an overdrawn distinction between embodied memory and textual memory that neglects the complex relations between the two, (2) an overemphasis on ritual performance at the expense of collective conversation, (3) an oversimplified view of performativity, and (4) an underestimation of the ambiguity in embodied performance. Theories of embodied collective memory should be narrowed and specified with focused comparisons examining the influence of embodied experience in the formation of collective identities, in conflicts over collective memories, and in the persistence and malleability of memories across generations. We illustrate our argument throughout with examples drawn from the collective memory of Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland in 1972.
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