Forward an Anthropological Perspective of Alzheimer’s Disease: The Symbolic Meanings of Memory Loss in a Commemoration Society

  • Abstract:

    This intervention is based on some reflections from an ethnographical research about the cultural meanings of aging, dementia and memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease in contemporary society. In the common sense and in the classification of diagnosis, aging and dementia are considered as one of the dramatic and disturbing experiences of human condition. This work aims to explain the cultural reasons of this apocalyptic scenario considering the cultural meaning of memory loss in a society which defines its collective identity in historical et memorial terms, mostly by the political performances of commemoration. By the description and analysis of a particular commemoration ceremony of the very recent event of terrorism attack in Paris on January 2015, I would like to demonstrate that the commemoration practice in not really based on the historical objectivity of the past event but rather on a political performance promoting the mythisation of it, in order to reinforce the social cohesion around a dominant system of values at the bottom of collective identity. This argument allows concluding that in the contemporary commemoration society which defines the collective identity on the memory and memorial practices, the person suffering Alzheimer’s disease and memory dysfunction is not fully considered like a legitimate member of the social group.