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Social and Political Uses of the Family Memory: From Self-Rehabilitation to Introducing Order to Historical Chaos

Michèle Vatz Laaroussi

In the following text, we shall be developing a hypothesis according to which family memory plays an articulatory and co-constructive role in the space between individual identity and family group identity. More especially, thanks to its functions of transmitting, of reviving the past, and of creating awareness of a trajectory and of the passage of time, it opens up a new space between the individual and the social, between the intimate, the private, the collective and the public arenas. And somewhere within this space between the individual, the family and the social, unfamiliar uses – therapeutic, social and political – of the family memory develop, with the purpose of caring for individuals, helping families, tending the suffering, and healing the ruptures inflicted by the families themselves and by the social and historical contexts. And, finally, family memory contributes to the furtherance of the notion of the individual as a citizen. The present analysis derives from a panorama of hitherto unappreciated uses of family memory, and it allows us to reflect on the issues, limitations and possible perverse impacts of these new links between family memory, family subject and social stakeholder.