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Your Father Would Be So Proud: A Study on Family Collective Memory of a Deceased Parent

By Hillary Blunt

From the Faculty Nominator:

Hillary Blunt wrote this paper in the Fall 2012 semester for SOC 310, the Sociology & Anthropology Department seminar on collective memory.  The field of collective memory studies examines the social patterning of  memories, the role of shared ideas about the past in group identity, and  the idea that we can "remember" and care deeply about things we never  personally experienced (such as the American Revolution, the Holocaust, etc.).

In this paper, Hillary draws on concepts that other scholars have  developed at a macro level and skillfully applies them at a micro level, using a case study of her family's memory of her deceased father. She persuasively argues that a surviving child of a deceased parent can fruitfully be seen as both a form of memory and a trigger for others' memory, and she explores intentional and unintentional forms of remembrance within families. Her paper builds a strong case that sociological scholarship on memory should pay greater attention to families and small groups as crucial sites of collective memory
construction.

From the author:

I knew from the moment I started learning about collective memory studies that I wanted to do this project.  Through my research, I explored the collective memory of a deceased parent that a child develops through the family.  I originally wanted to do a lot more with the paper, but ended up focusing primarily on memory sharing through story telling and picture sharing.  The paper has a lot of personal meaning for me and it was a great way for me to reconnect with family and my roots while exploring an aspect of collective memory that I found exciting and one that has not been researched significantly.

Read: Your Father Would Be So Proud: A Study on Family Collective Memory of a Deceased Parent

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