Memories of Others for the Sake of Our Own: Imported Events in American Presidential Rhetoric (1945–2020)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In light of the incessant passage of ideas, images, cultural products, and people across cultures and borders, this research—located in the third wave of memory studies—examines how foreign events are imported and incorporated in national political rhetoric. Examining speeches made by American presidents (1945–2020), this analysis shows that the practice of importing events is affected by time, structure, and meaning-making processes. First, imported events are affected by epochal considerations and attest to the power of the present. Second, imported events are presented during non-commemorative occasions and are evoked together with national past events. Third, whether through legitimization, confirmation, or appropriation, imported events are constructed for the sake of enhancing the American nation and affirming its greatness. Imported events, thus, provide new strategies of nationalism in globalized cultures. At the same time, imported events—by now memories—are sought after and by mere appearance pierce the heart of the nation. With this research, we contribute to core questions in collective memory, tying political, cultural, and social considerations with regard to the continuing transformation of collective memories in a constantly changing world.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)317-336
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Journal of Cultural Sociology
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Keywords

  • American presidents
  • Collective memory
  • Imported events
  • Nation
  • Political speech
  • Traveling memory

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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