ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Alessandro PortelliSubscribe to Alessandro Portelli

On the Uses of Memory

Memory is often discussed as an asset or a liability. Memory can function as "monument" in the form of commemoration and celebration of a proud collective identity, and a foundation on which individuals build their own identity. The function of memory, however, can be that of making us uneasy about ourselves and our history. This paper discusses in these terms the memory of two events that have shaped Italian national memory and identity: the Risorgimento (the war of national independence and unification) and the Resistance (the war of liberation from Fascism and Nazism). While both episodes are often celebrated in (literally) monumental terms, oral histories reveal hidden contradictions.
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