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The Narrative Organization of Collective Memory



Abstract Collective memory is analyzed from the perspective of narrative organization. Specifically, narratives provided by a sociocultural context, especially the modern state, are examined in their capacity to serve as cultural tools for members of a collective as they recount the past. The power of these tools to shape collective remembering is examined with the help of a distinction between specific narratives and schematic narrative templates. The former include information about specific dates, places, actors, and so forth, whereas the latter are abstract forms of narrative representation and typically shape several specific narratives. The utility of these notions is assessed by examining the “expulsion-of-foreign-enemies” schematic narrative template that shapes much of Russian collective memory, both during the Soviet period and post-Soviet periods. [collective memory, narrative, schematic narrative template, Russia]