Lenin and Marx as Symbols of Liberation?

Lenin und Marx als Symbole der Befreiung?



Are historical representations and collective memories one and the same thing? Why and how do they coincide or differ? Local and national contexts most definitely play an important role in this respect. But it is also important and necessary to examine which social and cultural processes influence citizens in aligning memory and history. Let us consider a recent and very drastic example.

Communism is still alive

The picture above shows a students’ meeting in Guerrero, Mexico, on November 23, 2014.[1] The students gathered are discussing protest actions in response to the disappearance of 43 fellow students on September 26, 2014.[2] The students who disappeared were most probably abducted for protesting against discrimination and other forms of political violence. This incredible incident has produced the most important political scandal in Mexico in recent years. As can be seen, images of Marx, Engels, and Lenin are among the permanent political symbols at this educational establishment. The image includes the well-known sentence from Marx’s thesis about Feuerbach. It is an image very similar to those found in many places throughout Latin America. Plausibly, the presence of these images indicates that for this particular political movement, and probably for many others in Latin America, Marxist and revolutionary characters are very influential for the interpretation of the past. For a majority of Latin America’s youth, Marxist symbols and characters are no doubt representatives or models of resisting political oppression, economic exploitation, and human rights violations. In this vein, it is important to consider that the Marxist weltanschauung has traditionally drawn on history as a social scientific underpinning of its grand narrative of progress and emancipation, ultimately carried out by the Russian revolution. It is very likely that this grand narrative is being represented on the Mexican mural seen above. However, comparing this image with the numerous images depicting the destruction of Marxist monuments all over the former Soviet Union immediately after the collapse of communism raises several questions. For example, how is it possible that Mexican students consider Lenin and Marx as cultural and political models of liberation whereas both figures represent oppression in other parts of the world?

A new view of Marx

Both viewpoints are based more on collective memories than on historiographic research. As I mentioned, collective memories involve selective forgetting. This may also happen in a historiographic endeavor, but the latter at least aims to systematically avoid forgetfulness. For example, various recent publications [3] have shown how Soviet regimes were characterized by an enormous repression of political adversaries and citizens, close allegiance with the Nazi regime, and produced more than 11 million victims. This is clearly “forgotten” by the Mexican students. But at the same time it can be argued that the massive destruction of Marxist monuments “forgets” the systematic repression of Marxist political leaders and citizens by military regimes in Latin America, often supported by the government of the United States of America.[4] In short, it is clear that collective memories are basically contextual and to some extent reactive. In other words, they appear in the context of a particular inherited social and political past. It is along these lines that these Mexican students vindicate the revolutionary role of Marxist figures because these represent their attempt to gain emancipation and civil rights. Probably the students do not consider Marxist figures as symbols of oppression, because this has not been the case in their local and national experience. On the other hand, citizens from former communist countries see in monuments inspired by Marxism the oppression they experienced for decades in their societies. Historiographic research strives for a broader view of social and political problems and takes into account more than one perspective on the past. Collective memories, however, are contextual and local. The most relevant social, cultural, and political context for citizens is their own current national society.

A nationalist trend in history education?

Interestingly, these two divergent settings—Latin American countries and former communist societies—have something in common: their tendency to ground their history education and curriculum mostly in nationalist contents. In both cases, a nationalist view of the past is taken to be perfectly compatible with a particular position regarding the Marxist-Leninist grand narrative. This nationalist trend in history education has been analyzed in much detail.[5] For example, in Mexico students and teachers took to the streets when the government tried to change the school history curriculum through educational reforms in 1992 and 2000 respectively.[6] These historical contents mainly concerned national figures, such as the Child Heroes who fought against the North American army. These children are popular heroes in Mexico, even though their actual role in the military conflict has not been well documented until now. The Mexican government tried to implement a new history curriculum, in which these and similar figures were not present anymore. The attempt to change the history curriculum, and to make it less nationalist, was perceived by a part of the citizenry as an assault on both their collective memory and their historical knowledge. On the other hand, according to Ahonen,[7] both Estonia and the former German Democratic Republic transformed their history curricula radically after the collapse of the communism in order to base them on nationalist narratives and concepts. This tendency is even stronger now and takes into account the very nationalist and patriotic orientation adopted by Russia in recent years under President Putin.[8] Comparing these examples of collective memories, as framed by certain contexts, reveals the contribution of modern history as a discipline to constructing multi-perspective accounts of the past. On the other hand, particularly as regards the collapse of the Soviet Union,[9] the contribution of collective memory to history writing is very clear. As Le Goff observes, “Popular archives can correct official archives, even though the latter can hide and therefore reveal some truths that have been kept a secret.”[10] Thus, collective memory and historiography combined can counteract the attempts of political, ideological, or economic powers to use, suppress, or manipulate history to suit their own interests.[11]



  • Carretero M. and van Alphen F. (forthcoming) History, Collective Memories or National Memories? How the representation of the past is framed by master narratives. In B. Wagoner ( Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Culture and Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Carretero, M. (2011). Constructing patriotism. Teaching history and memories in global worlds. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
  • Levintova, E. (2010). Past imperfect: The construction of history in the school curriculum and mass media in post-communist Russia and Ukraine. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 43, 125-127.

External link


[1] http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/10/17/actualidad/1413568451_060339.html (last accessed 18.12.2014).
[2] See: http://elpais.com/elpais/2014/11/10/inenglish/1415647325_524994.html. (last accessed 14.01.2015).
[3] Snyder, T. (2012). Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. New York, NY: Basic Books.
[4] See for example the collective memory of political violence during the 70´s in South America: Jelin, E. (2003). State Repression and the Labors of Memory. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
[5] Carretero, M., Asensio, M. & Rodriguez-Moneo, M. (Eds.) (2012) History Education and the Construction of National Identities. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
[6] Carretero, M. (2011). Constructing patriotism. Teaching history and memories in global worlds. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, esp. chapter 2.
[7] Ahonen, A. (1997). A transformation of history: The official representations of history in East Germany and Estonia, 1986-1991. Culture and Psychology, 3, 41-62.
[8] Levintova, E. (2010). Past imperfect: The construction of history in the school curriculum and mass media in post-communist Russia and Ukraine. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 43, 125-127. doi: 10.1016/j.postcomstud.2010.03.005.
[9] Brossat, A., Combe, S., Potel, J., & Szurek, J. (Eds.) (1992). En el este, la memoria recuperada. València: Edicions Alfons el Magnànim. [First published in 1990 as: A l’Est, la memoire retrouvée, Paris: Éditions La Découverte.]
[10] Ibid., p. 16; translated from Spanish.
[11] Le Goff, J. (1992). Prefacio. In A. Brossat, S. Combe, J. Potel, J. Szurek (Eds.), En el este, la memoria recuperada (pp. 11-17). València: Edicions Alfons el Magnànim. [First published in 1990 as: A l’Est, la memoire retrouvée, Paris: Éditions La Découverte.]


Image Credits
© Saúl Ruiz, 2014. Mexican students of Education in a meeting about civil rights. The mural is quoting Marx: “Until now philosophers have only interpreted the world. What is necessary is to transform it.”.

Recommended Citation
Carretero, Mario: Lenin and Marx as symbols of liberation? In: Public History Weekly 3 (2015) 3, DOI:  dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2015-3302.

Copyright (c) 2015 by De Gruyter Oldenbourg and the author, all rights reserved. This work may be copied and redistributed for non-commercial, educational purposes, if permission is granted by the author and usage right holders. For permission please contact: elise.wintz (at) degruyter.com.

Sind historische Repräsentation und kollektive Erinnerung dasselbe? Warum und wie stimmen sie überein oder unterscheiden sie sich? Auf jeden Fall spielt der lokale und nationale Kontext dabei eine wichtige Rolle. Ebenso wichtig und notwendig ist es jedoch zu analysieren, welche sozialen und kulturellen Prozesse die BürgerInnen dabei beeinflussen, ihre Erinnerung und Geschichte miteinander in Einklang zu bringen. Betrachten wir dazu ein aktuelles und sehr drastisches Beispiel.


Der Kommunismus lebt!

Die Abbildung oben zeigt das Treffen von Studierenden in ihrer Bildungseinrichtung in Guerrero, Mexiko, am 23. November 2014.[1] Sie diskutieren über Protestaktionen als Reaktion auf das Verschwinden von 43 KommilitonInnen am 26. September 2014.[2] Diese wahrscheinlich gewaltsam entführten StudentInnen hatten gegen Diskriminierung und andere Formen der politischen Gewalt protestiert. Dieser unglaubliche Vorfall wurde zum bedeutendsten politischen Skandal in der jüngeren Geschichte Mexikos. Man kann dem Bild entnehmen, dass die Abbildungen von Marx, Engels und Lenin zu den permanenten politischen Symbolen an dieser Schule gehören. Der bekannte Satz aus Marx‘ Abhandlung über Feuerbach ist ebenfalls auf dem Plakat enthalten. Es ist eine Abbildung, die in ähnlicher Form an vielen Stellen in Lateinamerika gefunden werden kann. Das Vorhandensein dieser Bilder ist ein deutliches Indiz dafür, dass für diese spezielle politische Bewegung, und wahrscheinlich noch viele andere in Lateinamerika, marxistische und revolutionäre Persönlichkeiten sehr einflussreich für die Interpretation der Vergangenheit sind. Für die Mehrheit der lateinamerikanischen Jugend sind marxistische Persönlichkeiten und Symbole zweifellos Repräsentanten oder Vorbilder des Widerstands gegen politische Unterdrückung, wirtschaftliche Ausbeutung und Verletzungen der Menschenrechte. In diesem Sinne ist es wichtig zu berücksichtigen, dass die marxistische Weltanschauung traditionell die Geschichte als sozialwissenschaftliche Untermauerung ihrer historischen Meistererzählung von Fortschritt und Emanzipation heranzieht, der letztlich durch die russische Revolution vollzogen worden sei. Es ist sehr wahrscheinlich, dass sich diese Narration in dem mexikanischen Wandbild der Abbildung darstellt. Wenn wir nun die Porträts in der Abbildung mit den vielen Bildern vergleichen, die die Zerstörung marxistischer Denkmäler in der ehemaligen Sowjetunion unmittelbar nach dem Zusammenbruch des Kommunismus zeigen, dann entstehen sofort Fragen. Zum Beispiel: Wie ist es möglich, dass die mexikanischen StudentInnen Lenin und Marx als politische und kulturelle Vorbilder der Befreiung ansehen und diese Charaktere zur selben Zeit in anderen Teilen der Welt für Unterdrückung stehen?

Ein neuer Blick auf Marx

Beide Sichtweisen stützen sich mehr auf kollektive Erinnerung als auf historiografische Forschung. Wie bereits erwähnt, beinhaltet kollektive Erinnerung auch selektives Vergessen. Etwas, das auch bei einem historiografischen Zugriff passieren kann, doch zielt diese zumindest auf die systematische Vermeidung von Vergesslichkeit ab. Als Beispiel haben jüngere Publikationen gezeigt, wie das Sowjetregime sich durch enorme Unterdrückung politischer GegnerInnen sowie BürgerInnen im Allgemeinen auszeichnete, eine Allianz mit dem NS-Regime eingegangen ist und mehr als 11 Millionen Opfer verschuldete.[3] Dies wurde von den mexikanischen StudentInnen natürlich “vergessen”. Zugleich kann man argumentieren, dass die massive Zerstörung der marxistischen Denkmäler die systematische Unterdrückung von marxistischen politischen Führungspersönlichkeiten und BürgerInnen im Allgemeinen durch Militärregimes in Lateinamerika “vergessen” lässt, die oftmals durch die Regierung der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika unterstützt wurden.[4] Kurz gesagt ist es klar, dass kollektive Erinnerungen im Grunde kontextabhängig und in einem gewissen Maße reaktiv sind. Mit anderen Worten erscheinen sie im Kontext einer bestimmten, ererbten gesellschaftlichen und politischen Vergangenheit. In diesem Sinne rechtfertigen die mexikanischen StudentInnen die revolutionäre Rolle der marxistischen Abbildungen, da diese für ihr Bestreben stehen, Emanzipation und Bürgerrechte zu erlangen. Wahrscheinlich nehmen sie marxistische Abbildungen nicht als Symbole der Unterdrückung wahr, weil eine solche marxistisch begründete Unterdrückung in ihren lokalen und nationalen Erfahrungen nicht der Fall gewesen ist. Andererseits sehen BürgerInnen aus ehemals kommunistischen Ländern in marxistisch inspirierten Denkmälern die Unterdrückung, die sie in ihrer jeweiligen Gesellschaft während Jahrzehnten erfahren und durchmachen mussten. Historiografische Forschung versucht, einen umfassenderen Blick auf soziale und politische Probleme zu werfen und dabei mehr als nur eine Perspektive auf die Vergangenheit in Betracht zu ziehen. Kollektive Erinnerungen sind aber kontextabhängig und lokal verortet, und der bedeutsamste soziale, kulturelle und politische Kontext für BürgerInnen ist die eigene gegenwärtige nationale Gesellschaft.

Ein nationalistischer Trend beim historischen Lernen?

Interessant ist dabei, dass die beiden divergierenden Szenarien lateinamerikanischer Länder und früherer kommunistischer Staaten dennoch etwas gemeinsam haben. Wir beziehen uns auf deren Tendenz, den Geschichtsunterricht und die entsprechenden Curricula auf nationalistische Inhalte zu stützen. In beiden Fällen erweist sich eine nationalistische Sichtweise auf die Vergangenheit als komplett kompatibel mit der spezifischen Haltung der marxistisch-leninistischen Meistererzählung. Diese nationalistische Tendenz im Geschichtsunterricht ist bereits sehr ausführlich untersucht worden.[5] So demonstrierten zum Beispiel in Mexiko SchülerInnen und LehrerInnen – und traten in Streik – als die Regierung in den Jahren 1992 und 2000 versuchte, die Inhalte des schulbezogenen historischen Lernens mit einer Bildungsreform zu verändern.[6] Die historischen Inhalte bezogen sich zumeist auf nationale Symbole, wie etwa die Kinderhelden, die gegen die nordamerikanische Armee kämpften. Diese Kinder sind populäre Volkshelden in Mexiko, auch wenn ihre tatsächliche Rolle in diesem Konflikt bislang noch nicht hinreichend gut dokumentiert ist. Die mexikanische Regierung versuchte, im Unterrichtsfach Geschichte einen Lehrplan zu implementieren, in dem diese und ähnliche Symbole nicht mehr vorhanden sind. Der Versuch, den Geschichts-Lehrplan zu ändern und ihn weniger nationalistisch zu gestalten, wurde von Teilen der Bürgerschaft als ein Angriff auf ihre kollektive Erinnerung und ihr geschichtliches Wissen wahrgenommen. Andererseits, so eine Untersuchung von Ahonen,[7] wurden in Estland und in der früheren DDR nach dem Zusammenbruch des Kommunismus die geschichtlichen Inhalte der Lehrpläne radikal verändert, indem sie mehr auf nationalistische Narrative und Konzepte gestützt wurden. Dieser Trend ist gegenwärtig sogar noch stärker, wenn wir die stark nationalistische und patriotische Orientierung berücksichtigen, die sich in Russland in den letzten Jahren unter Präsident Putin etabliert hat.[8] Wenn wir diese Beispiele kollektiver Erinnerung, die von bestimmten Zusammenhängen umrahmt werden, vergleichen, kann der Beitrag der modernen disziplinären Geschichtswissenschaft durch die Konstruktion multiperspektivischer Zugänge deutlich gemacht werden. Andererseits, besonders beim Niedergang der Sowjetunion,[9] wird der Beitrag der kollektiven Erinnerung zur Geschichtsschreibung sehr deutlich. Le Goff formuliert es so: “Menschliche Archive können amtliche Archive korrigieren, selbst wenn letztere in der Lage sind, einige geheim gehaltene Wahrheiten zu verstecken und folglich auch aufzudecken.”[10] Werden kollektive Erinnerung und Geschichtsschreibung also kombiniert, können sie Versuchen der politischen, ideologischen oder wirtschaftlichen Mächte entgegenwirken, Geschichte in ihrem eigenen Interesse zu benutzen, zu unterwerfen oder zu manipulieren.[11]



  • Carretero, Mario  / van Alphen, Floor: History, Collective Memories or National Memories? How the representation of the past is framed by master narratives. In: B. Wagoner ( Hrsg.) Oxford Handbook of Culture and Memory. Oxford (im Erscheinen).
  • Carretero, Mario: Constructing patriotism. Teaching history and memories in global worlds. Charlotte, NC 2011.
  • Levintova, Ekaterina: Past Imperfect. The construction of history in the school curriculum and mass media in post-communist Russia and Ukraine. In: Communist and Post-Communist Studies 43 (2010) 2, S. 125-127.

Externer Link


[1] http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/10/17/actualidad/1413568451_060339.html (zuletzt am 18.12.2014).
[2] See: http://elpais.com/elpais/2014/11/10/inenglish/1415647325_524994.html. (zuletzt am 14.01.2015).
[3] Snyder, Timothy: Bloodlands. Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. New York 2012.
[4] Vgl. z.B. die kollektive Erinnerung der politischen Gewalt während der 70’er Jahre in Südamerika: Jelin, Elizabeth: State Repression and the Labors of Memory. Minneapolis, MN 2003.
[5] Carretero, Mario / Asensio, Mikel / Rodriguez-Moneo, María (Hrsg.): History Education and the Construction of National Identities. Charlotte, NC 2012.
[6] Carretero, Mario: Constructing patriotism. Teaching history and memories in global worlds. Charlotte, NC 2011, besonders Kapitel 2.
[7] Ahonen, Sirkka: A transformation of history. The official representations of history in East Germany and Estonia, 1986-1991. In: Culture and Psychology (1997) 3, S. 41-62.
[8] Levintova, Ekaterina: Past Imperfect. The construction of history in the school curriculum and mass media in post-communist Russia and Ukraine. In: Communist and Post-Communist Studies 43 (2010) 2, S. 125-127. doi: 10.1016/j.postcomstud.2010.03.005.
[9] Brossat, Alain u.a. (Hrsg.): En el este, la memoria recuperada. València 1992. [Erstveröffentlichung 1990 unter dem Titel: A l’Est, la memoire retrouvée, Paris: Éditions La Découverte.]
[10] Ebd., S. 16; übersetzt aus dem  Spanischen.
[11] Le Goff, Jacques: Prefacio. In: Brossat, Alain u.a. (Hrsg.), En el este, la memoria recuperada.  València 1992 [Erstveröffentlichung 1990 unter dem Titel: Al’Est, la Memoire retrouvée, Paris: Editions La Découverte.] S. 11-17.


© Saúl Ruiz, 2014. Mexikanische Studenten der Erziehungswissenschaften bei einem Treffen über Bürgerrechte. Die Inschrift des Banners zitiert Marx: “Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert; es kommt aber darauf an, sie zu verändern.”

Empfohlene Zitierweise
Carretero, Mario: Lenin und Marx als Symbole der Befreiung? In: Public History Weekly 3 (2015) 3, DOI:  dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2015-3302.

Copyright (c) 2015 by De Gruyter Oldenbourg and the author, all rights reserved. This work may be copied and redistributed for non-commercial, educational purposes, if permission is granted by the author and usage right holders. For permission please contact: elise.wintz (at) degruyter.com.

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DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2015-3302

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3 replies »

  1. I have always read Carretero’s studies with interest and admiration. This BlogJournal’s entrance is, like most of Carretero writings, really suggestive. But after read it I need to do some brief comments. I agree with Carretero about the proximities and distances between collective memory and historiographic research. I particularly share his conclusion, in which he argues that both practices can correct state national and authoritarian historical narratives. I know how the restrictions on length for posts in PHW excludes a lot of the answers that Carretero has. Despite this I want to point out more issues. The spirit of my comment is no other than to promote the discussion about public history.

    My perspective about the students’ disappearance last September differs from that of Mario Carretero. The students’ abduction by the hands of the county police and the drugs dealers’ gunmen was a state crime that tried to eliminate any social, rural and independent organization. Moreover, this criminal act was just one more of a large chain of human right violations against poor and marginalized people in this zone. This terrible history began, at least, five decades ago.

    On the other hand, I have to put some questions to Carretero’s text: if we seek mural paintings on other walls of the teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa we will found a lot of different historical symbols, like the 70s Mexican’s teachers and guerrilla soldiers who studied in the same school and died for an army bullet. Student’s historical consciousness is maybe of more importance as underpinning in this collective memory – with its particular indigenous shape of history’s account – than it is Marxist “Weltanschauung”. How can we include this other history, with its collective memory and its traditional social fight and, above all, a cultural different knowledge in our interpretation of Ayotzinapa’s students’ historical thinking? On another subject, if using a picture of Lenin does not necessarily imply that we agree with Stalin crimes, why do we have to make an automatic interpretation of it as “clearly forgotten”, when we can think it differently: that the students prefer Lenin´s imperialism theory to Stalin’s genocide? In the same direction, why do the author assume that Marx and Lenin’s figure are part of a collective memory rather than a exhibit of a systematic, scientific and critical study of Marxism that is scheduled in the school curriculum – like at a lot of universities? Finally, one important use of public history is to guide the present action to a desirable future. What kind of history – collective memory, historiographic research or political use of the past – do the parents of the disappeared students need to find their sons? The answers, for me, are not in the gap or alignment of professional history with collective memory. We might find the responses in the right of the subalterns to write their own history, the history they need in the struggle for social justice.

    To have understood the politic contexts during Mexican history curriculum reforms is important to read deeply in Carretero’s text. He is right when he asserts that Mexican history curriculum has an old and traditional national trend. In 1992, the most conservative groups were against the intention to erase some national history fiction, like Carretero says. But the more important struggle about the curriculum was driven by the political left. The neoliberal administration went to revalorize an old liberal dictator to justify the economic changes, like privatization, reducing social costs and opening the trade boundaries. The center of the controversy were the official textbooks, not the curriculum. 2004 was different: The new curriculum was designed by a neoconservative group. In the first version of the syllabi, the secondary history curriculum erased any trace of Mesoamerican civilizations. They did not want to teach more Indigenous history in compulsory education. The most important reaction in that time came from professional historians, who stressed the inclusion of ancient Mexican history. Fortunately, the government lost the fight and its racist and Hispanic syllabus never became effective. In my view, the struggle for Mexican history curriculum wasn’t between historiographical science and national and political trends. It was neoliberalism against democratic movement in the first place, and racism, catholic and neoliberal parts of the society in opposition to historians and Indigenous history moreover.

    • Thanks for your comments, Sebastián. I almost totally agree with you; as a matter of fact, I have considered the Mexican case of History Education in my book (Constructing Patriotism, chapter, 2). In this case, space limitations prevented me going into details that you provided very brilliantly. On the other hand, my purpose this time was to make a comparison with between Mexico and former communist countries; not just to analyze the Mexican case. Anyway, thanks again for your rich contribution. Best, Mario

  2. I’ve read the post with much interest. Basically I agree with your ideas but I want to propose another perspective on this point. I think that mexican students find marxist symbols (or the founding fathers of marxism) so appealing because nationalist historiography and some interpretations of marxist legacy, (v. gr. Marta Harnecker) that are so widely spread all over Latin America, deal in similar ways with the past and the present. Total history – Their interpretations of the past pretend to explain almost everything: from slavery to art history.

    In both cases, nationalist perpectives of history and some versions of marxist historiography propose a single mechanism (the existence of a “natural” community or class struggle) through which everything might be explained. But there is something else: those “totalitarian” interpretations are not only about the past but they prescribe actions and strategies in the present. This kind of “teleology” has to be desactivated if we want to make room for more inclusive versions of history. I’m not quite sure if it is only a problem of nationalism or of nationalist historiography: the mexicans study their past and know nothing about how russians suffered under communism. Maybe it is also a matter of modern epistemologies.

    On the other hand I agree that history and collective memory are not the same thing. But history is not better or more necessary than memory. Even though, as you say, collective memory is possible through selective forgetting and history pretends to avoid forgetfulnes, that is an illusion and not an innocent one. History, to make sense, has to leave behind lots of documents, facts, evidences. Like in Borges tale, “Del rigor de la ciencia”, if a historian pretended to incorporate all evidences she would be crushed under them.

    I think that the difference between history and memory is not a matter of more or less forgetfulness. Collective memory deals with experience, it is the way a group of people, in a specific moment, copes with past and present situations. Memory changes as anyone knows. Even individual memory changes in a life time, as Freud explained so masterfully. Collective memory is not the place where to find facts and chronologies but it is not fiction either, in the sense of a false account of what happened. In collective memory another kind of truth is hidden: A tale of what was important or significant for different generations through history. It is a different kind of record, as you suggest. History as a discipline is a way of making sense of the past, conditioned itself historically, with a sense of time and causality that is only a way of interpreting reality. I’m sure that a combination of historical explanation and collective memory narratives would be very usefull in broadening students empathetic skills, as long as none of them pretend to be the truest version.

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