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Pierre Nora

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Abigail Prepelka

on 15 October 2013

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Transcript of Pierre Nora

Pierre Nora Born November 17, 1931 in Paris
Received his Bachelors of Arts degree in Philosophy
Made famous by his work on identity and memory Nora's most famous contribution to French
studies of identity and memory came in the form
of the three-volume work called "Places of Memory."
Nora was the editor of these works in conjunction with the Gallimard Publishing House. Currently lives with French journalist Anne Sinclair
Considers himself a Sephardic Jew, meaning he follows a Spanish liturgy
Is a chairman of the international association "Freedom for History" In the historical world, Nora is greatly admired for his position as "a Jewish consciousness." A lifelong friend of Nora, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, credited him in building a "collective consciousness on a national scale."

That is to say, Pierre Nora is not only a Jewish historian, but a French historian, and those two characteristics are inexorably related. Being Jewish Nora is a Holocaust survivor. During the period when the Nazis occupied France, he was able to escape the Gestapo by jumping out of a school window. "I shall consider myself Jewish as long as somewhere a Jew is threatened because of his identity, just as I myself was, during my boyhood." - Pierre Nora Being French Nora's family has far-reaching French roots. Nora's family - though they were known by the name of
Aron at the time - were French pre-1808, when Napoleon decreed that all Jews adopt French family names. Nora's Work "Lieux de memoire" means sites of memory.
"Milieux de memoire" means real environments of memory. According to Nora, real environments of actual memory no longer exist. If they did, the term "lieux de memoire" wouldn't exist, and we'd be able to live in memory.
The process that is carrying us forward, and our representation of that process, are of the same kind. History Memory …is the re-construction, always problematic and incomplete, of what is no longer.
…is a representation of the past.
…calls for analysis and criticism because it is an intellectual and secular production.
…releases remembrance within the sacred.
…belongs to everyone and to no one, whence its claim to universal authority.
…binds itself strictly to temporal continuities, to progressions, and to relations between things.
…can only conceive the relative. ...is life, borne by living societies founded in its name. It remains in permanent evolution, open to the dialectic of remembering and forgetting, unconscious of its successive deformations, vulnerable to manipulation and appropriation, susceptible to being long dormant and periodically revived.
…is a perpetually actual phenomenon, a bond tying us to the eternal present.
…only accommodates those facts that suit it: it nourishes recollections that may be out of focus or telescopic, global or detached, particular or symbolic – responsive to each avenue of conveyance or phenomenal screen, to every censorship or projection.
…installs remembrance within the sacred.
…is blind to all but the group it binds.
…takes root in the concrete, in spaces, gestures, images, and objects.
…is absolute. Sites of memory Sites of memory have become less meaningful because they show rituals and inequalities that no longer make sense to modern thought.
They are material, symbolic, and functional. They require a will to remember.
Examples: 1. Calendar of French Revolution 2. lour de la France par deux enfants.
Both history books and historic events should be studied as sites of memory.
Pierre Nora suggests that studying sites of memory would give history as a subject a "reawkening." Memory & History Memory and history are now the same.
Memory today is about records as opposed to things passed down ( archives). Genealogies Important families, church and state kept records. Now everyone does this, because we want to know about average people and keep track of our own lives.
These archives may be more trouble than they're worth.
Individuals research their geneaologies . Every group has to research its own history, which replaces its collective memory.
Therefore, memory has become individual instead of collective. Discussion Question Do you agree or disagree with Pierre Nora?
Do you think that sites of physical memory are important, or can we gain all the knowledge we need about the past through secondary sources?
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