Intercultural Human Rights Law Review

First Page



The term "lieux de mimoire" or sites of memory, as the historian Pierre Nora formulated it, expresses "the problem of the embodiment of memory in certain sites where a sense of historical continuity persists. "Contrary to history which is the reconstruction of the past, memory is the perpetual "transmission and conservation of collectively remembered values" by ethnic minorities, families or groups. It binds a concrete group to which it is specific, thus it is "by nature multiple and yet specific; collective, plural, and yet individual." Memory "takes root in the concrete, in spaces, gestures, images, and objects", and "lieux de memoire" are the embodiments of a memorial consciousness. Thus, lieux de memoire could take a series of materialized and intangible forms such as monuments, cemeteries, museums, anniversaries, statutes, natural landscapes, institutions, traditions, books or fine arts, due to their iconic importance for the memory of a group. It is not by accident that especially national and ethnic minorities defend a privileged memory and more generally their identity through lieux de memoire; for religious, national and ethnic minorities, "without commemorative vigilance, history would soon sweep them away."