Tangible pasts: Memory practices among children and adolescents in Germany, an affect-theoretical approach
Röttger-Rössler, Birgitt; Seise, Franziska – 2023
This article highlights the ontogeny of autobiographical memory and its sociocultural foundations as an important and underrepresented field of research in psychological anthropology. It discusses the results of an explorative photovoice study on the emotional experiences of children and adolescents. Our study discovered that memory practices play a major role in young people's daily lives. Participants often referred to emotionally significant past events, relationships, or life periods by relating them to particular memory objects. We assume that the material dimension of children's memory practices not only facilitates an affective engagement with the past but also makes past experiences communicable to oneself and to others. The memory objects used by our research participants were linked in substantial ways to culturally specific modes of remembering, (auto)biographical narration, and the formation of feeling among adolescents. In discussing broader implications of our results, we draw on insights from developmental psychology, affect and emotion theory, and social anthropological research on memory and materiality. We conclude with a brief comparative look at memory practices in the Indonesian context to hint at a significant field of cross-cultural research that opens at the intersection of studies on material culture, memory practices, (auto)biographical remembering and narrating, and the formation of feeling.