As sites of documentary preservation rooted in various national and social contexts, artifacts of culture, and places of uncovering, archives provide tangible evidence of memory for individuals, communities, and states, as well as defining memory institutionally within prevailing political systems and cultural norms. By assigning the prerogatives of record keeper to the archivist, whose acquisition policies, finding aids, and various institutionalized predilections mediate between scholarship and information, archives produce knowledge, legitimize political systems, and construct identities. Far from being mere repositories of data, archives actually embody the fragments of culture that endure as signifiers of who we are, and why. The essays in Archives, Documentation, and Institutions of Social Memory conceive of archives not simply as historical repositories but as a complex of structures, processes, and epistemologies situated at a critical point of the intersection between scholarship, cultural practices, politics, and technologies.
Remembering the Year of the French is a model of historical achievement, moving deftly between the study of historical events—the failed French invasion of the West of Ireland in 1798—and folkloric representationsof those events. Delving into the folk history found in Ireland’s rich oral traditions, Guy Beiner reveals alternate visions of the Irish past and brings into focus the vernacular histories, folk commemorative practices, and negotiations of memory that have gone largely unnoticed by historians.
Beiner analyzes hundreds of hitherto unstudied historical, literary, and ethnographic sources. Though his focus is on 1798, his work is also a comprehensive study of Irish folk history and grass-roots social memory in Ireland. Investigating how communities in the West of Ireland remembered, well into the mid-twentieth century, an episode in the late eighteenth century, this is a “history from below” that gives serious attention to the perspectives of those who have been previously ignored or discounted. Beiner brilliantly captures the stories, ceremonies, and other popular traditions through which local communities narrated, remembered, and commemorated the past. Demonstrating the unique value of folklore as a historical source, Remembering the Year of the French offers a fresh perspective on collective memory and modern Irish history.
Winner, Wayland Hand Competition for outstanding publication in folklore and history, American Folklore Society
Finalist, award for the best book published about or growing out of public history, National Council on Public History
Winner, Michaelis-Jena Ratcliff Prize for the best study of folklore or folk life in Great Britain and Ireland
“An important and beautifully produced work. Guy Beiner here shows himself to be a historian of unusual talent.”—Marianne Elliott, Times Literary Supplement
“Thoroughly researched and scholarly. . . . Beiner’s work is full of empathy and sympathy for the human remains, memorials, and commemorations of past lives and the multiple ways in which they actually continue to live.”—Stiofán Ó Cadhla, Journal of British Studies
“A major contribution to Irish historiography.”—Maureen Murphy, Irish Literary Supplement
"A remarkable piece of scholarship . . . . Accessible, full of intriguing detail, and eminently teachable.”?—Ray Casman, New Hibernia Review
“The most important monograph on Irish history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to be published in recent years.”—Matthew Kelly, English Historical Review
“A strikingly ambitious work . . . . Elegantly constructed, lucidly written and inspired, and displaying an inexhaustible capacity for research”—Ciarán Brady, History IRELAND
“A closely argued, meticulously detailed and rich analysis . . . . providing such innovative treatment of a wide array of sources, his work will resonate with the concerns of many cultural and historical geographers working on social memory in quite different geographical settings and historical contexts.”—Yvonne Whelan, Journal of Historical Geography
Prompted by the abundant historical allusions in Athenian political and diplomatic discourse, Bernd Steinbock analyzes the uses and meanings of the past in fourth-century Athens, using Thebes’ role in Athenian memory as a case study. This examination is based upon the premise that Athenian social memory, that is, the shared and often idealized and distorted image of the past, should not be viewed as an unreliable counterpart of history but as an invaluable key to the Athenians’ mentality. Against the tendency to view the orators’ references to the past as empty rhetorical phrases or propagandistic cover-ups for Realpolitik, it argues that the past constituted important political capital in its own right. Drawing upon theories of social memory, it contextualizes the orators’ historical allusions within the complex net of remembrances and beliefs held by the audience and thus tries to gauge their ideological and emotive power.
Integrating literary, epigraphic, and archaeological evidence with recent scholarship on memory, identity, rhetoric, and international relations, Social Memory in Athenian Public Discourse: Uses and Meanings of the Past enhances our understanding of both the function of memory in Athenian public discourse and the history of Athenian-Theban relations. It should be of interest not only to students of Greek history and oratory but to everybody interested in memory studies, Athenian democracy, and political decision making.