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Genre Memories and Memory Genres: A Dialogical Analysis of May 8, 1945 Commemorations in the Federal Republic of Germany

Jeffrey K. Olick
American Sociological Review
Vol. 64, No. 3 (Jun., 1999), pp. 381-402
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657492
Page Count: 22
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Genre Memories and Memory Genres: A Dialogical Analysis of May 8, 1945 Commemorations in the Federal Republic of Germany
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Abstract

Commemorative images of the past not only reflect the commemorated event and the contemporary circumstances, but are path-dependent products of earlier commemorations as well. Drawing on the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, I specify the central mechanism of this path-dependency-genre memory-and reconceptualize commemoration dialogically. In a case study of May 8, 1945 anniversaries in the Federal Republic of Germany, I take an integrated approach that includes the politics of commemoration (context-dependence), the history of commemoration (long-term development of commemorative forms), and most important, the memory of commemoration (prosaic path-dependence), illuminating a subtle yet crucial feature of the 50th anniversary commemoration of May 8 1945: its response to the memory of the 40th anniversary.

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