The Influence of the Absence of Place on the Construction of Intergenerational Collective Memory in a Community of Persons Uprooted from their Homes

Zeev Greenberg, Irit Greenberg


This article examines the construction of collective memory among the residents of the village of Bir'em, who in 1949 were expelled from their homes under temporary military order and, to this day, never allowed to return. Using the theoretical distinction between the terms "space" and "place" (and between different types of spaces), the article describes the transition from the definition of the abandoned village as an undefined space, lacking borders and possessing little meaning to a definition of place possessing physical, personal and social significance. This transition was accomplished through processes of collective memory construction that have enabled the uprooted villagers to transmit that memory to second and third generation descendants. The processes employed were described by participants in thirty-two in-depth interviews and include using the site for transmitting stories at informal family gatherings, communal events and camp programs and for worship at the restored church. The village, itself, is an arena in which two groups compete for the construction of meaning: the Jewish society (through state institutions) that emphasizes its early Jewish history and the uprooted villagers who struggle to preserve structures and stories of the Christian village that was. The social processes of the uprooted community turn the imagined space into a symbolic space of meaning for themselves and for those who were born years after the expulsion.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n3p203

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This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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