Two cases of memory construction in Fiji: A theoretical development of collective memory under globalisation and digital agetive memory

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Journal Article
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Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies
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Kataoka, Masaki

The theory of collective memory argues that remembering is a socially constructed phenomenon. It is society that constructs and provides individuals with norms, beliefs, and ideas about life, and only within the social framework can people memorise the past. Each society develops its own unique social context, and so is the case with collective memory. Even if several social groups witness the same event, their memories differ because of the variations in the social frameworks to which they belong. However, in this globalised and digitised world, where it is no longer possible to construct social memory within isolated frameworks, collective memory can easily cross social borders; such interactions can lead to the development of new collective memory. This article introduces two cases of memory construction regarding ethnic relations between the indigenous Fijians and the Indo-Fijians. The first is based on a powerful political leader's attempt to construct collective memory about past ethnic relations, and the second is the attempt to alter memories of how local Fijians responded when the ship Syria, carrying indentured labourers from India, ran aground in 1884. Although their processes were different and their outcomes seem unrelated, this article argues that these two cases are interdependent because of the changing and fluid nature of collective memory. The article concludes that in the study of collective memory in the present era, events in different contexts should be analysed within a single framework.

digital age, globalisation, ethnic division, Syria shipwreck, Fiji, collective memory
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CC BY 4.0