Prof. Fahad M. Al-Otaibi
The National State and its Historical Memory

There are different definitions of historical memory depending on the viewing angles, and here I am interested in historical memory in its social dimension, where I can define it as those shared historical events that are shared by a certain human group over a specific time range, and all these events are not required to be positive and happy, but some of them may be Sad and negative. 

Here, the memory of the individual in remembering these events depends on the memories of other members of the group. Durkheim says in his book "The Social Frameworks of Memory": "When I remember, it is the third person who drives me to do so, my memory depends on his memory, and his memory depends on mine”.

This collective remembrance means sensing the common life experience as well as a sense of the unity of destiny, and this means linking the members of society with a strong historical and psychological bond that is difficult to penetrate. What does all this mean to the national state in our contemporary world?. 

The philosophy of the national state is basically based on the existence of a human group with historical and cultural ties residing on a specific land. 

The national state has not previously faced problems related to these partnerships among its residents. But the globalization, with all its manifestations that transcended geography, also began to dominate history. 

The molding of national cultures in the form of a single global culture threatens the risk of melting these cultures, and melting will only take place with the weakness of the national historical memory or its disappearance. 

This danger increases with the new generations for a simple reason, which is that historical memory works in all its components along a single generation, but it needs to be updated in order to be be transferred to another generation. 

Indeed,  it is not logical to build the memory of a young man today with the same material that formed his father's memory. 

This update of memory is  one of the responsibilities of the state, and it must take place through specialized institutions, led by sincere thinkers.

Related News