Gordon shows that while individual memory is crucial to establishing and maintaining identity, public memory is contested terrain - official customs and traditions, monuments, historic sites, and the celebration of anniversaries and festivals serve to order individual and collective perceptions of the past. Public memory is therefore the product of competitions and ideas about the past that are fashioned in a public sphere and speak primarily about structures of power. It conscripts historical events in a bid to guide shared memories into a coherent narrative that helps individuals negotiate their place in broader collective identities. The contest over public memories involves an exclusiveness that packages "others" according to the ideological preferences of the dominant cultures. Gordon shows that in Montreal ethnic, class, and gender voices strove to stake their own claims to legitimacy. Rather than acknowledging a single past, Montreal's many publics made and celebrated many public memories.