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Identity change through the revision of a community's collective memory - 11 November 2020

Roy Suddaby presented a paper entitled “Revising the palimpsest of Elkhart, Indiana: the narrative structure of collective identity change”. He is the Winspear Chair of Management at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria, Canada, and Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Carson College of Business at Washington State University, USA.

Professor Suddaby and colleagues describe a theory of identity change that occurs through processes of revising the collective memory of a community. They analyze structural changes in how actors narrate the collective memory of a community struggling to make sense of the traumatic loss of their identity-defining industry.

They introduce the term autobiographical memory to describe the process by which community actors, both individual and institutional, revised their identity in three phases. In the first phase, individual mnemonic narratives emphasize analepses or flash-back memories and demonstrate an effort to maintain continuity in identity with the past. In the second phase, each mnemonic narrative contains both analepses and prolepses or flash-forward memories. In the final phase, individual mnemonic narratives emphasize prolepses only, in an effort to construct continuity with a mythical metanarrative or metalepses.

They challenge prevailing assumptions of memory as objective and identity as stable and enduring and propose an alternative theory of identity as a palimpsest, an ongoing project of revising a shared autobiographical memory.

This seminar is organized jointly by House of Innovation, the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship and the Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets. 

House of Innovation Misum

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