ABSTRACT. We explored why social-ecological memory (SEM) is a source of inertia and path dependence, as well as a source of renewal and reorganization in social-ecological systems (SESs). We have presented two case studies: the historical case of the Norse settlement on Greenland and an empirical case from contemporary southern Madagascar. The cases illustrate how SEM is linked to specific pathways of development and a particular set of natural resource management practices. We have shown that in each case, a broader diversity of SEM is present in the SESs, but not drawn upon. Instead, SEMs are part of what explains community coherence and the barriers to adoption of more diverse practices. We have elaborated on how specific SEMs are linked to specified resilience, and we have shown that this fits existing notions of resilience, robustness, inertia, and path dependence. We have proposed that to change the dynamics of development pathways that do not produce desired results, it is necessary for managers to shift from specific to general SEM, which would also mirror the shift from specified to general resilience. The challenge lies in the interplay between the specified and the general. In this critical work, it is important to recognize that the valued diversity of SEM necessary for general resilience might actually reside in a different community.