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date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Human beings’ unique drive to immortalize the important lessons we have learned is as old as civilization itself. The drive to pass on our cultural heritage to those we are more immediately temporally linked to, and those that we are more distantly temporally linked to, must then, serve an adaptive function. For animals as socially determined as humans, public heritage, through its reciprocal relationship with collective memory, supports the development of social cohesion between individuals, and therefore allows us to coalesce into groups and societies. How is this achieved? This chapter will focus on evidence that suggests what makes it into, or out of, our public heritage is about the functional role that information plays in shaping collective identity, not its validity, and will be determined by the extended interactional dynamics of the situation. Specifically, we focus on the role that conversational dynamics play in the formation of collective memories.

Keywords: public heritage, memory, social memory, collective memory, collective identity, distributed cognition, social contagion, socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting

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