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Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity$
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Jeffrey Alexander

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520235946

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520235946.001.0001

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Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity

Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity

(p.60) Chapter 3 Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity
Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity

Ron Eyerman

University of California Press

The trauma in question is slavery, which can be connected to collective memory, a form of remembrance which grounded the identity-formation of a person. There is a distinction between trauma as it affects individuals and as a cultural process. In a cultural process, trauma is connected to the build-up of collective identity and the construction of collective memory. The view of a unique African American identity emerged in the post-Civil War period, after slavery had been abolished. The trauma of forced servitude and of nearly complete subordination to the will and whims of another was not necessarily something directly experienced by many of the subjects of this study, but came to be central to their attempts to forge a collective identity out of its remembrance.

Keywords:   African American, identity, slavery, collective memory, trauma

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