Memory, History and National Identity


In modern society, history and memory are ascribed very different spheres: While history is an academic discipline with its method, its sources and its whole academic apparatus, memory is regarded as individual, emotional and unstable. History plays a part in public and political life, its scene is museums, books, academia. Memory is a matter of the subject, it belongs to the private sphere and the close relations.
History is held as an important value in our societies, it gives roots, identity and belonging. But how can an academic discipline function like that? Because, under its scholarly cover, history silently borrows the disrupted qualities of memory. It is only by being spoken of as memory and by being transformed into memory that history fulfills its tasks, builds national identities, gives roots, tells us who we are and where we come from.

How to Cite

Eriksen, A., (1997) “Memory, History and National Identity”, Ethnologia Europaea 27(2), 129-138. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


Download PDF



Anne Eriksen (University of Oslo)



Publication details



All rights reserved


File Checksums (MD5)

  • PDF: 8f78ca9449962237958cb71382a62786