The Role of “Memorial Sites” in the Formation of Collective Memory – Thanatourism as a Component of Historical Politics

Exploiting memory as a tool of manipulation can be possible even when we are entirely aware that we are subject to such processes. After all, so many of our memories are triggered unconsciously. They can be activated by external stimuli independent of free will. Maciej Bugajewski’s analysis of the work of Paul Ricoeur confirms this notion. Ricoeur made a distinction between two types of memory: anamnesis (in Latin, reminiscentia) and mneme (Lat. memoria). The first variant indicates “the subject’s active pursuit of recollections of the past,” while the second occurs “when recollections appear unintentionally.” Bugajewski points out that Ricoeur limits his comments to questions relevant to the analysis of anamnesis (this is surely related to his perception of man as a “capable human being”). When he applies a similar method in his analysis of mneme, he ends up eliding the crucial aspect of the unconscious nature of memory recall. Bugajewski shows us that a defining feature of mneme is “the subject’s passivity and his role as beneficiary in these manifestations.” This “passivity” is the very factor underlying the state’s power to activate manipulation tactics that yield such palpable effects, even when we are fully cognizant that these strategies are at play. Unconscious recollections are also capable, to a degree, of influencing how we form judgments and make conclusions.