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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: April 2018

13 - Restoring Cultural Identity Clarity in Times of Revolution

from Part III - Representations of and in Revolution


This chapter focuses on the consequences of revolution for ordinary group members, each of whom is forced to psychologically adjust if there is to be any hope of them successfully navigating the new reality that revolution brings. We begin by defining revolution and the most important psychological challenge that group members face when confronted by such collective trauma: its impact on cultural identity, and more specifically on cultural identity clarity. Our theoretical stance is that a clear cultural identity is critical for the well-being of each and every group member. A cultural identity that is clearly defined, we argue, is what provides each and every group member with a template for successfully navigating the social environment in order to “get along” and “get ahead” (Taylor & de la Sablonnière, 2014). The goal of the present chapter is thus to explore a possible framework by which the clarity of cultural identity might begin to be restored when it is destroyed in the context of revolution. Specifically, we will argue that a group’s shared historical narrative may be an important building block for rebuilding a new clearly defined cultural identity to serve as a guide for the new post-revolution environment. We argue that there are three main features of group-based collective historical narratives. First, historical narratives include key historical heroes who changed the course of history for the group, and who personify the behaviours and values that define the group. Second, historical narratives focus on pivotal historical events, be they positive or negative, that define the group. Finally, each collective narrative has a trajectory of historical events and heroes that are linked together to arrive at a coherent and continuous cultural identity. These shared historical narratives can help traumatized group members who need to reconstruct their cultural identity. The group’s historical narrative can provide a foundation for rebuilding identity through its concrete historical examples, and by offering the expanded time perspective necessary to help define long-term collective goals moving forward.

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