Ethics of Remembering

Palabras clave

Intergenerational trauma
mass atrocity
ethics of remembering
embodied memory
emotions trauma intergeneracional
atrocidad masiva
etica del recuerdo
memoria encarnada


Many communities today continue to be haunted by conscious and unconscious memories of past atrocities as they struggle to live with the legacies of brutality and related trauma. These dehumanising events are not just recent wars, violent intercommunal conflicts, genocides, apartheid, and forced displacement, but also more distant outrages, including the occupation of indigenous lands, enslavement, and colonialism. So the trauma was transmitted from one generation to the next, and the effects of dehumanisation are kept alive in our collective memory. In this context, this article explores remembering as beyond the cognition and beyond language. It draws on the normative theory of collective memory and pays attention to remembering as the embodied and the emotional, including the ways that potent sensations and sentiments might encapsulate the unspeakable and in-articulatable experiences of loss, grief and injustice. This allows a further investigation into how remembering the past brutality can transmit and reinforce our identity, relational orientations and actions. As what we remember and how we should remember the past can determine our experience of our dignity and well-being, this article proposes that it requires the ethics of remembering aimed at enriching the healing and transformative potential of collective memory, and inspiring our responsibilities for co-creating a just and humane world.