Date of Award

Winter 2-1-2021

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Carey Kasten, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Caley Johnson, Ph.D.


Historical memory is how we remember the past in association with our group identities. One of the main historical memories that we take part in is the historical memory of the country in which we live. Its social nature can be problematic, leaving gaps in place of horrific events that a country would rather not remember. I argue that gaps are permeated throughout historical memories and that this has allowed for problems of the past to persist in the present, no matter how a country has gone about their process of forgetting. To illustrate my argument I use two case studies: Spain, which formally implemented a “Pact of Forgetting” through its 1977 Amnesty Law, and the United States, which did not create a formal process for forgetting, but has done so more insidiously. I utilize a documentary from each country that demonstrates the failings of historical memory. Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar’s The Silence of Others (2018) and Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro (2017) help to connect the past to the present, and aid me in demonstrating the direct relationship between the problems that each country has tried to leave in the past and the problems that they are facing in the present. As evidenced by the memory movement in Spain, which continually pushes for the country to acknowledge and rectify its past, and the Black Lives Matter movement and the lack of racial equality in the United States, a country cannot try to ignore wrongdoings in the past without them recurring in the present.