Collective Memory: How the Present Shapes the Past Told through a Philadelphia Story About George Washington and Slavery
Marc Howard Ross
William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor
Department of Political Science
Bryn Mawr College
Collective memory is increasingly discussed as an important feature of large group behavior. Prof. Ross will outline conceptual tools for the analysis of collective memory and how present needs shape what is told and retained about the past: narratives, symbols and rituals, and symbolic landscapes as well as an empirically useful way to understand collective memory and its role in ethnic and racial conflict and conflict mitigation. To illustrate the approach, he will consider the case of race in the United States and especially the phenomenon of slavery in both the north and the south. He will emphasize the role of selective forgetting in the north and how only in recent years has the story of slavery and segregation there been publicly considered.