Міroslav Hroch. Memory and Historical Consciousness

The article deals with some troubles connected with thoughtless use of the term ‘memory’ that became such a fashionable word during the last decades. The author reminds that “collective memory” doesn’t cover all forms in which history is quasi deposited in the heads of the present population. Regarding historical research and collective memory as incompatible, the author is concerned about a strong penetrating of the interest in memory into historical research. Contributing to collective memory, historians cross the border between comparative scientific analysis of historical processes and changes.

Although there is no doubt that memory is of great importance in politics, education and forming national solidarity, accepting the understanding of collective memory as superior to historical research raises serious questions. Scientific results are an essential and decisive component of historical research. Collective memory is and has to be derived from historical consciousness, possibly as its application to society and politics. If it became the opposite, history as an independent study of humanity would be endangered, warns the author.