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Abby Smith Rumsey: Memory, Edited

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Abby Smith Rumsey: Memory, Edited

Wednesday, October 11, 2023
4:30pm to 6:30pm PT

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Free and open to the public.

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Join us for a book talk with Abby Smith Rumsey who will discuss her recent publication, Memory, Edited: Taking Liberties with History. The book is an exploration of historical memory and networks of meaning in the context of today's crises of extremism and polarization.

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As authoritarianism continues to rise around the world, the stories we tell ourselves about what has happened and what is happening become ever more relevant. In Memory, Edited, Abby Smith Rumsey examines collective memory, how it binds us, and how it can be used by bad actors to manipulate us. Bringing forward the voices of a rich cast of Eastern European artists from the past two hundred years—from Fyodor Dostoevsky to Gerhard Richter—Rumsey shows how their work and lives illustrate the devastation wrought by regimes dependent on entrenched lies to survive. This hijacking of the narrative polarizes communities even as it commandeers our future.

Through an interdisciplinary lens that includes the best thinking from history, the arts, cognitive science, psychology, and political philosophy, Rumsey lays bare our narratives, showing how they are constructed and how they have changed over time. Ever-aware of resisting the false promise of utopia, Rumsey argues that only by confronting the past and reckoning with the crimes that were committed can we ever hope to heal and gain self-knowledge. Memory, Edited is an indispensable text for anyone who cares about democracy, equality, and freedom in our current age of crisis.

Abby Smith Rumsey is an intellectual and cultural historian. She chairs the board of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and is the author of When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future.