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Why are we sometimes unable to remember events, places and objects? This concise overview explores the concept of 'forgetting', and how modern society affects our ability to remember things. It takes ideas from Francis Yates classic work, 'The Art of Memory', which viewed memory as being dependent on stability, and argues that today's world is full of change, making 'forgetting' characteristic of contemporary society. We live our lives at great speed; cities have become so enormous that they are unmemorable; consumerism has become disconnected from the labour process; urban architecture has a short life-span; and social relationships are less clearly defined- all of which has eroded the foundations on which we build and share our memories. Providing a profound insight into the effects of modern society, this book is a must-read for anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and philosophers, as well as anyone interested in social theory and the contemporary western world.
In treating memory as a cultural rather than an individual faculty, this book provides an account of how bodily practices are transmitted in, and as, traditions. Most studies of memory as a cultural faculty focus on written, or inscribed transmissions of memories. Paul Connerton, on the other hand, concentrates on bodily (or incorporated) practices, and so questions the currently dominant idea that literary texts may be taken as a metaphor for social practices generally. The author argues that images of the past and recollected knowledge of the past are conveyed and sustained by ritual performances and that performative memory is bodily. Bodily social memory is an essential aspect of social memory, but it is an aspect which has until now been badly neglected. An innovative study, this work should be of interest to researchers into social, political and anthropological thought as well as to graduate and undergraduate students.