Soci e partner

Provincia di Ravenna

Comune di Ravenna

Fondazione del Monte

Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna

Regione Emilia-Romagna

Ministero della Cultura

Memoria e Ricerca

Websites of Memory: The American Civil War and the Advent of the Internet

di Eleni Paschaloudi
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 21 (2006), p. 177

The American Civil War, as any other civil war, was extremely violent, divisive and negative. However, it is really astonishing that Americans refer to it as an event that finally contributed to the nation’s unification, part of it’s heroic past. Rather than looking at the war as a tragic failure and trying to understand it, or even condemn it, Americans, North and South, chose to view it as a glorious time to be celebrated. In the case of the American Civil War, the Internet constitutes a field of primary interest. Besides the official collective memory, cyberspace allows to groups and individuals to construct and maintain their own particular view of what the War really meant. As the internet public sphere allows anything to anyone, contributes to the democratization of memory and commemoration. There are literally thousands of sites and millions of pages that relate to the American Civil War. In terms of memory and for the purpose of this paper they can be separated in two vast categories: those that function as vehicles for the official public memory and the ones that differentiate and project different views. Nevertheless both categories lead us to a general conclusion: Memories remain and /or become vivid recollections because they contribute positively to personal and social identity and thus serve to maintain or enhance self-esteem. ?n the case of the American Civil War, maintaining the memory on a nationwide level and maintaining the memory on a local family and personal level did not have the same objectives. The government officials preserved the memory of the war as a reference to the nation’s unity. People in the south preserved a different aspect of memory in order to sustain a positive group and self-concept after the war.