Due to different definitions used in disaster-related literature, for the purpose of this Toolkit the main terms used are defined below. The full Glossary can also be downloaded in a .pdf format (see User Guide Section).
Individual memory is, usually, based on personal experience. In contrast, collective memory can be based on the shared individual memory (or memories) amongst a group’s members, but it may also refer to memories shared by a collective which recall events that are much older than any of the members of the group. Such memories are transferred from generation to generation and can represent an important element of a group’s collective identity.
For example, social cohesion based on collective memory of wartimes: whereas only the oldest members of a local community may still have first-hand experience of the Second World War, family stories of helping neighbours to safety in bomb shelters, of destruction and communal rebuilding, pictures in the media commemorating the anniversary of specific local events, “physical” experience through visiting local museums etc. keep these memories alive and shape a local sense of belonging. Such social cohesion, based on collective memory, may be called upon for the benefit of promoting disaster preparedness.