What is the nature of the relationship between history and memory, and how might certain writing modes mediate and articulate that relationship? In a hugely influential article ‘Between memory and history: les lieux de mémoire’, published in 1989 as a synthesis of his body of work on the topic, the French historian Pierre Nora condemned what he perceived as ‘the conquest and eradication of memory by history’.1 The ‘acceleration of history’2 (or the perception of it) throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Nora feared, had virtually obliterated global cultures of folk traditions and ‘environments of memory’ (milieux de mémoire). This had left only fragments or traces behind, scattered, as sites of memory (lieux de mémoire) to be retrieved and reconstructed by the eager few. While ‘true’ or ‘real’ memory – ‘social and inviolate, exemplified in but also retained as the secret of so-called primitive or archaic societies’ – had all but been annihilated Nora argued, a modern form of memory had taken its place.3 ‘Modern memory’ is embodied within the practice of oral history, heritage, commemoration, archives and genealogy. According to Nora, its popularity reflects an insatiable appetite to remember and record what might otherwise be forgotten, as well as an anxiety to store and to catalogue the past for its possible but indeterminate use in the future. The writing of memory through the practice of history, then, is key within this process. However, within such thinking ‘modern memory’ appears to be a poor substitute for its ‘pure’ cousin, having been corrupted by its ‘passage through history’, becoming mechanical and ‘deliberate’ rather than ‘spontaneous’.4