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Historical amnesia and its consequences: the need to build histories of practice

Author(s): Sioban Nelson

Journal: Texto & Contexto Enfermagem
ISSN 0104-0707

Volume: 18;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 781;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: History of nursing | Memory | Identity

This paper focuses on two key themes: the role of history as a witness to key events, moments, or shifts in history; and the role of history in the on-going development of identity - identity of individuals, of groups, of nations or generations. I will conclude with some comments about the way the study and the teaching of history can be approached. My argument has several strands: First history is useful in the specifics - sometimes there are stories we should not forget. We owe it to stand witness. Each culture has these je me souvien moments. Some, like Hiroshima or the Holocaust, belong to the whole world. Second, there are stories that it is wise not to forget - we should learn from the blunders of those who came before us and show some wisdom. Finally I argue that historical amnesia is dangerous. Memory is necessary - we need to know who we are if we have any hope of knowing where we are going.
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