Past is a lost whole, organic, elusive dependent upon quality of memory used, sciences and institutions that fix it and interests that influence the processes. Like no other civilisation so far, we have perfected the technologies of recording the memory. Paradoxically, we arrived to hypermnesia, drowning in the oceans of data, information and knowledge. 

The aim of memory accumulation cannot be ever more memory as it seems to be the case. Society needs quality, noble memory, the one that would be responsible, ethical and usable for development, - filtered and weighted for the scientific arguments and sustainable relevance. Such memory made upon criteria of quality is in fact, - wisdom. (By the way, knowledge, being neutral or dependent upon purposed it has been used for, is not what we must have for the sustainable development).

Heritage is social construct, but being an extract from entire memory is a welcome process of structuring the worth and necessary knowledge and accumulated human experience. Heritage, at its best brings wisdom but does not equal it. It is formed throughout the societal structures of memory. It relies upon collective memory which derives from all the individuals and groups, as unstable, elusive and flux in character. The domain of cultural industries lives partly upon collective memory but is creative, sometimes or even prevailingly fictional, producing what we might call social memory. It formed amidst lively, versatile societal processes. Public memory is the huge domain of battle for the dominant, ruling narratives.

 

From all this and with the decisive contribution of science, due to discipline in selection and research, a public memory is deduced and sedimented. The process is dominantly performed in public memory institutions, like archives, museums, librarires and other DB or hybrid institutions. Public memory is in a sense, the operating, public selection of recordings and interpretations of the past that we tacitly agree to take as authority when it comes to the understanding of particular or general past. PMIs are increasingly converging and might be forming a new, mega profession in a close future.  In its social understanding, their role is maintenance of the usable value systems that civil society wishes to retain and use in the realm of the societal project.

Heritage and The Sectors of Memory

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Some rights reserved. European Heritage Association, 2016.