Marion Lerner: Cultural Memory and Places of Remembrance: Observations on travel accounts and cairns
The article discusses two traditional media of Icelandic travel culture, cairns and travel accounts, in order to discover their roles in the Icelandic culture of remembrance. Cultural memory is explained as a theoretical concept, as well as how it involves the dynamic joining of stored and functional memory. When a narrative is written down as a travel account, it may acquire the permanence of cultural memory. Travel accounts thus contrast with stone cairns, which remain silent and are restricted to temporary, communicative memory. However, travel accounts are only able to function as cultural memory if their narratives relate to the identity and cultural construction of a group, in this case of the Icelandic nation during a certain period. In places of remembrance, time and space connect in a unique manner, lending the site a degree of sanctity.
Keywords: cairn, travel account, cultural memory, stored memory, functional memory, places of remembrance, communicative memory, identity