Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity

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University of California Press, Mar 22, 2004 - Political Science - 314 pages
"A timely and sophisticated series of studies. Articulating diverse strands of social theory with the historical episodes that have had major affective resonances within national cultures, the volume as a whole contributes significantly to our understanding of relationships between collective affect and social process."—Michael Shapiro, Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii

"The fine and deeply argued essays in this book build a strong case against a naturalistic theory of collective traumas. Traumas are made, not born, claim the authors. And they brilliantly cast a steely gaze on several social nightmares--the Nazi holocaust, slavery in the United States, September 11, 2001--in order to limn the social and cultural processes by which events come to be viewed as threatening to the very identity of collectivities. Ultimately this is a book about the nature of the very normative order that gives meaning to the human condition."—Robin Wagner-Pacifici, author of Theorizing the Standoff

"Near the end of the 20th century, scholarly interest in collective memory surged, spurred on both by re-examinations of the Holocaust and other canonical sources of trauma, and by the rise of a new set of institutionalized processes of collective memory-work. It is the great merit of these essays to approach the problems of collective trauma in sociological terms, as theorizable patterns in socially and culturally organized processes. This is a vital corrective to more naturalistic understandings and complement to those focused more narrowly on psychology or textual analysis."—Craig Calhoun, President, Social Science Research Council

"This interactive collection of essays breaks new ground in the sociology of trauma. With its rich range of empirical cases, this book will inspire new debates across the social sciences about memory, collective suffering, and coping."—Arjun Appadurai, Professor of International Studies, Yale University
 

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Contents

Psychological Trauma and Cultural Trauma
31
Slavery and the Formation
60
The Holocaust
112
A Case
155
September 11 2001 as Cultural Trauma
264
Bibliography
283
Index
299
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About the author (2004)

Jeffrey C. Alexander is Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Sociology Department at Yale University, the author of The Meanings of Social Life: A Cultural Sociology (2003), and the editor of Real Civil Societies (1998). Ron Eyerman is the author of Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity (2001). Bernhard Giesen is the author of Intellectuals and the Nation: Collective Identity in a German Axial Age (1997). Neil J. Smelser is the author of The Social Aspects of Psychoanalysis (California, 1998). Piotr Sztompka is the author of Trust: A Sociological Theory (1999).

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