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"To Keep the Memories Floating": Complexities of Memory Work

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
This thesis explores, through an ethnographic methodology situated within a living history museum and a military museum, the notion that memories are not ‘pre-given’ objects but are instead actively created and re-membered in complex and layered ways. Drawing upon interviews, observations, and personal memories of working in the living history museum, I take as a starting point memory work in these two museums related to the World Wars. This thesis considers in turn five key lenses on memory as work; that is, how it evolves from labour, crafting, and selection, and is constituted in fluid and dynamic ways. In particular, I consider the blurred boundaries between presumed dichotomies of memory/history and remembering/forgetting, as well as issues of authenticity and performance. This research adds to the relatively scarce scholarly literature on how people working in museums experience and ‘perform’ memory, as well as argues that memory is a central yet complex aspect of ethnographic fieldwork that requires critical reflexive analysis.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Culhane, Dara
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