What is most significant about Galaty’s ambitious and highly readable book is that he takes a comparative and long-term diachronic approach to collective memory practices. . . . Memory and Nation Building is. . . a compelling book and an excellent example of how the archaeological study of memory has matured over time. It will be of interest to scholars involved in the study of memory, the relationship between memory practices and the longue durée, and comparative approaches to history.
Galaty (2018), moves the study of collective memory beyond a simplistic association between monuments and legitimacy, following Jonker (1995) and J. Assman (2011) to develop a model that explains how would-be leaders transformed individual memory (particularly from funerary contexts) into collective memory.
Galaty’s aims are laudable, and I respect the breadth of the scholarship on display here. . . . Galaty is sincere about deploying the craft of archaeology to make sense of the violence and upheaval in our times. Colleagues of a processual bent who value large-scale comparative studies and who study the rise of states, nationalism and memory may well find much to interest them here.
Galaty closes his compelling volume with a defence of the importance of archaeology and its relevance to the modern political climate by reminding the reader that archaeology “is not a peripheral academic pursuit; rather, it is absolutely necessary if we are to make sense of world history, which is largely viewed, by most people, through the prism of memory” (p. 157).
This ambitious book focuses on the collective memories and so-called counter-memories of three eastern Mediterranean societies—Egypt, Greece, and Albania.