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INTRODUCTION For Walter Benjamin, it was the act of remembrance, in contrast to the search for scientific-historical fact, that guaranteed history could never be entirely 'atheological'. (1) There would always be some viewpoint external to history that would impart meaning to it. In this sense, the representations ('semblances') which seem to solidify any sense of 'cultural intelligibility' are given their meaning by viewpoints which must appear in some fashion to be theological, whether they are identified with a particular religious tradition or not. (2) They are also, as Benjamin made clear toward the very end of his life, undone by those 'weak messianic forces' moving through history that run counter to all theological-ideological readings of history, all myths of progress. (3) His co-opting of a religious ('messianic') terminology which seems to split or divide the theological from within can be established as a reading of history that attempts to grant power to those oppressed groups or persons who are otherwise muted within history, by any official historical record, that is, occluded by the strong narratives of progress and victory which dominate most historical accounts. Remembrance, by this count, will always thus appear to have two faces, that of the victor and that of the loser. This is more than a subtle reminder of the inherent contentiousness of any historiographical act. (4) Indeed, acts of remembrance are often nationalistic, racist, colonialist or patriarchical. They are possibly also, however, stories of liberation, survival, testimony and truth, functioning often as, to borrow the theologian Johann Baptist Metz's phrase, 'dangerous memories' to those persons remaining in power. (5) Insofar as all acts of remembrance are stories begging to be believed, they are certainly ideological, some more just in their fidelity to truth, others less so. Moreover, some are more violent to the precarious construction of identities today, some less so; for identities, no less than stories, are built upon these acts of remembrance passed along through time. (6)

Religion & Spirituality
January 1
Ashton and Rafferty
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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