Memory, History and Narrative: Shifts of Meaning when (Re)constructing the Past


  • Ignacio Brescó de Luna
  • Alberto Rosa Rivero


This paper is devoted to the examination of some socio-cultural dimensions of memory, focusing on narratives as a meditational tool (Vygotsky, 1978) for the construction of past events and attribution of meaning. The five elements of Kenneth Burke’s Grammar of Motives (1969) are taken as a framework for the examination of reconstructions of the past and particularly of histories, namely: 1) the interpretative and reconstructive action of 2) a positioned agent operating 3) through narrative means 4) addressed to particular purposes 5) within a concrete social and temporal scenery. The reflexive character of such approach opens the ground for considering remembering as one kind of act performed within the context of a set of on-going actions, so that remembrances play a directive role for action and so have an unavoidable moral dimension. This is particularly relevant for some kinds of social memory such as history teaching and their effects upon identity.