Materialised Identities: Cultural Identity, Collective Memory, and Artifacts

Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-17 (2021)
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This essay outlines one way to conceptualise the relation between cultural identity, collective memory, and artifacts. It starts by characterising the notion of cultural identity as our membership to cultural groups and briefly explores the relation between cultural and narrative identity (section 2). Next, it presents how human memory is conceptualised on an individual and collective level (section 3) and then distinguishes between small-scale and large-scale collective memory (section 4). Having described cultural identity and collective memory, it argues that cultural identity is materialised in the environment when we retrieve and construct collective memories by integrating information from our biological memory with information in artifacts or in other people’s embodied brains (section 5). This essay ends with analysing how materialised cultural identities are constructed by using a niche construction approach from evolutionary biology (section 6).

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Richard Heersmink
Tilburg University


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