Essay: Memory Refers to a Mental

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[. . .] This often occurs as a result of a deficit in information. For example, many cultures only concern themselves with their male (or female) ancestry, thus the other line is often not well researched. Again, we have the situation in Rwanda where one group, the Tutsi, are commonly viewed as the victims of the atrocities, whereas the Hutu are subjected to being portrayed as not being a part of them (Buckley-Zistel, 2006). Thus, ethnic identity and the different social status of groups shape the recollection of the past events in Rwanda.

Forgetting as annulment occurs as a result of an excess of information as opposed to a lack of it (Connerton, 2008). For example growing one's own food or hunting for edible berries are lost skills in technological societies. Information stored in documents or computer files belies the assumption that we can afford to forget it and retrieve it by means other than memory. Buckley-Zistel (2006) indicates that the complications of the atrocities are so overwhelming that it often appears that the people refer to repress them in order to move on with their current lives in an efficient manner, but the reminders are available and can be accessed if needed in order to avoid future repetitions of past events. This type of forgetting is rather common in groups or people that do not want to "live in the past" and instead choose to move forward and live together because that is the way it is.

Forgetting as planned obsolescence is built into the capitalistic system of consumption (Connerton, 2008). Long-term planning is a forgotten skill in a society that has shifted from the production of durable goods with a long product life cycle to services with a very short life cycle. Services provide a faster turnover of capital but the loss incurred is on the creation of lasting products and skill development. There is an increasing acceleration of innovation for the purpose of consumption that produces larger and larger quantities of objects that will soon be obsolete leading to the need for society to develop more and more methods of discarding obsolete items. One might think that this notion is not applicable to Rwanda but in essence this process is probably reflected in attitudes by Rwandans towards moving forward. The new government focus on one Rwanda can be viewed as presenting past notions of separate ethnicities as obsolete and need to be discarded as obsolete. In order to move forward it is obsolete to dwell on outmoded notions and past events that interfere with forward progress of the country. Thus, the people attempt to discard obsolete memories, and move forward with a new improved Rwanda.

The last form of forgetting is a pattern of behavior in civil society as opposed to state driven and is unacknowledged: forgetting due to a humiliated silence (Connerton, 2006). For instance the German victims of bombing in WWII have never put forth their suffering even though hundreds of thousands of non-combatant civilians were killed and millions of dollars in private property damage was incurred. It is as if these individuals were too shamed or shocked by the atrocities to ever complain of their suffering and could not express their own horror, but the failure to recollect defines them from others. Buckley-Zistel (2006) reflected that the situation in Rwanda is a form of chosen amnesia where the events are purposely excluded from recollection by victimized people to prevent a full sense of closure of trauma to undermine drawing boundaries between the notion of "us and them." The forgetting is chosen as opposed to coerced as it is a coping device to ensure peaceful coexistence.

When one views the collective memory (or collective forgetting) of the Rwandans one can observe how memories are altered in order to cope with current situations and yet still integrate the past in a constructive way to benefit everyone. As Connerton (2008) noted, forgetting may not always be a shortcoming and often may serve a purpose. Sometimes forgetting can be a virtue.


Atkinson, R.C. & Shiffrin, R.M. (1968). Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In K.W. Spence & J.T. Spence, The psychology of learning and motivation Volume 2 (pp. 89-195). New York: Academic Press.

Buckley-Zistel, S. (2006). Remembering to forget: Chosen amnesia as a strategy for local coexistence in post-genocide Rwanda. Africa, 76(2),… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Memory Refers to a Mental.  (2012, August 14).  Retrieved June 19, 2019, from

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"Memory Refers to a Mental."  14 August 2012.  Web.  19 June 2019. <>.

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"Memory Refers to a Mental."  August 14, 2012.  Accessed June 19, 2019.