Constructing identity by referring to the past is a profoundly human mechanism that probably characterizes (and characterized) all cultures in the world – even if the specific ways to remember (and to forget!) may vary largely. The Major Theme’s general topic is a broad, comparative and interdisciplinary discussion of the importance of memory in the construction of local, regional and national identities, at a global scale. This is being realized by the presentation of case studies by experts from four continents (Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe) covering 2000 years of global history, from the 1st century AD to contemporaneity. In this context, archeology plays a crucial role since memory tends to focus on material (and immaterial) monuments.
The exploration of the huge comparative field of the construction of memory in “Global Memory Studies” has just begun, and it has been launched by scholars from different perspectives all over the world.
In this, the constitution of a pool of case studies from different cultures and contexts is a first step, setting the ground for comparison. To understand the construction of identity via memory, it is necessary to take the local perspective as a starting point, since identity is firstly formed locally, before it becomes regional, national or even continental.
The second important step is reflection about methodology. In this context, comparison requires thorough reflection about the methods experts use, in order to look beyond their own cultural perspective, which hinders them from really learning something about “the Other”. This change of perspective may lead to the questioning of the established frames of scholarship, as for example, a Eurocentric perspective in epistemology.