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Social Brain, Distributed Mind$
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Robin Dunbar, Clive Gamble, and John Gowlett

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264522

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264522.001.0001

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Some Functions of Collective Forgetting

Some Functions of Collective Forgetting

(p.308) (p.309) 15 Some Functions of Collective Forgetting
Social Brain, Distributed Mind

Paul Connerton

British Academy

Coerced forgetting — forgetting as repressive erasure — has been a hallmark of many of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. However, the act of forgetting is not always negative. This chapter discusses three kinds of forgetting: prescriptive forgetting, or forgetting as an act of common good; forgetting as constitutive of the formation of a new identity; and forgetting as annulment, a response to a surfeit of information. Far from representing failures, all of these processes may play significant roles in the establishment and enhancement of social bonds.

Keywords:   coerced forgetting, prescriptive forgetting, new identities, social bonds, information annulment

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