MEMORY AND SOCIETY

 

We list here some works as a preliminary index of scientific sources that helps us to begin visualizing and tracking the connections between UK and Brazil that encompass memory, narrative and digital hydro-citizenship.

 

Assmann, J. (2010). Communicative and cultural memory. In Nünning, A., Erll, A. A companion to cultural memory studies (pp. 109-118). Berlin: Gruyter.

Building on some of the most cited works of memory studies, Assman offers precise and useful conceptual definitions. “Cultural memory reaches back into the past only so far as the past can be reclaimed as ‘ours’, he writes (p. 113). “This is why we refer to this form of historical consciousness as ‘memory’ and not just as knowledge about the past. Knowledge about the past acquires the properties and functions of memory if it is related to a concept of identity. While knowledge has no form and is endlessly progressive, memory involves forgetting. It is only by forgetting what lies outside the horizon of the relevant that it performs an identity function” (p. 113). In this fashion, memory lies within specific frames and contexts, which in turn belong to identities. “Memory is knowledge with an identity-index, it is knowledge about oneself, that is, one’s own diachronic identity, be it as an individual or as a member of a family, a generation, a community, a nation, or a cultural and religious tradition” (p. 114).

 

Clarke, M. A. (2009). The online Brazilian Museu da Pessoa. In Garde-Hansen, J.; Hoskins, A.; Reading, A. (eds.) Save as… digital memories (pp. 151-166). Basingstoke: Palgrave.

This article presents an “overview an analysis of the virtual museum an online digital archive of the Museu da Pessoa or Museum of the Person, founded in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1991, and, from 1997, freely accessible via the Museum’s portal www.museudapessoa.org” (p. 151). The project can be seen as a “component in the assessment of the nation’s past and the construction of alternative historical narratives”, in the sense that the “amassed and archived collections of memory narratives of many kinds and from many sources not only recover and problematise concepts of the past conceived as chronological time, but are also means of creating a ‘relational space’ (…) characterised by openness, multiplicity and heterogeneity (…)” (p. 154-155).

 

Deuze, M. (2006). Participation, remediation, bricolage: considering principal components of a digital culture. The Information Society: An International Journal, 22(2), 63-75.

When personal views about widely shared social and political experiences and events become exposed online and gain particular forms on blogs, there would be a specific logic of thinking underpinning the very act of blogging. In a way, bloggers behave as they shared a distinct set of values which could be seen in terms of a culture, i.e., a digital culture. This article draws from literature review seeking to characterize such a culture as being ruled by three tenets: participation, remediation, and bricolage. “Something is going on in the daily lives of media users worldwide that makes them (us) accept the fact that reality is constructed, assembled, and manipulated by media, and that the only way to make sense of that mediated world is to intervene and thus adjust our worldview accordingly (…). In short: In the proliferation and saturation of screen-based, networked, and digital media that saturate our lives, our reconstitution is expressed as: 1. Active agents in the process of meaning-making (we become participants). 2. We adopt but at the same time modify, manipulate, and thus reform consensual ways of understanding reality (we engage in remediation). 3. We reflexively assemble our own particular versions of such reality (we are bricoleurs)” (p. 66).

 

Goulart, E. E., Perazzo, P. F. (2010). Caminhos cruzados no mundo digital: a hipermídia e a memória. Comunicação & Inovação, 11(21), 16-23.

Goulart & Perazzo (2010) examine the convergence of hypermedia with memory, oral narrative, life histories and local cultural heritage, focusing on the case of the collection of the ABC Memories. “ABC Paulista”, the region comprised by seven industrial cities located around the city of São Paulo (Brazil) and strongly connected to the capital, was the starting point of a collection of personal objects, printed documents, letters, pictures, photos, records, videos, books and newspapers assigned by the storytellers interviewed in the scope of a research on cultural heritage. The project, called HiperMemo, “enhances (…) capacities of protest and participation of the individual within his/her group, community or society in defense of rights, cultural existence and individuality” (p. 21).

 

Hoskins, A. (2009). Digital network memory. In Erll, A., Rigney, A. (eds.) Mediation, remediation, and the dynamics of cultural memory (pp. 91-106). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

“Contemporary memory is principally constituted neither through retrieval nor through the representation of some content of the past in the present”, writes the author (p. 92). “Rather, it is embedded in and distributed through our sociotechnical practices (…). Thus the use of Web sites and services such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter allow users to continually display and to shape biographical information, post commentaries on their unfolding lives and to interact publicly or semi-publicly with one another through messaging services in real-time or near real-time. Other ‘dynamic’ so-called ‘Web 2.0’ platforms include file sharing systems, for example Flickr and YouTube, which mesh the private and the public into an immediate and intensely visual and auditory present past. The very use of these systems contributes to a new memory—an emergent digital network memory—in that communications in themselves dynamically add to, alter, and erase, a kind of living archival memory” (p. 92).

 

House, N. V., Churchill, E. F. (2008). Technologies of memory: key issues and critical perspectives. Memory Studies, 1, 295-310.

“In this article, we expand on why memory studies should be vitally concerned with past, present and emerging technologies of memory and socio-technical practices of memory-making and memory retrieval”, write the authors (p. 296). “We focus on some specific concerns about current developments in digital memory technologies. Our basic argument is that what is remembered individually and collectively depends in part on technologies of memory and the associated socio-technical practices, which are changing radically” (p. 296). “The facility with which material can be digitized, replicated and distributed through and across socio-technical networks has resulted in profound shifts in how we conceptualize memory, our personal and collective archive practices, and even our views of persistence and permanence” (p. 296).

 

Kansteiner, W. (2002). Finding meaning in memory: a methodological critique of collective memory studies. History and Theory, 41, 179-197.

“Collective memories originate from shared communications about the meaning of the past that are anchored in the life-worlds of individuals who partake in the communal life of the respective collective”, distinguishes Kansteiner (p. 188) from individual memories, in this paper conceived as an attempt to demarcate the boundaries of a scientific domain. “Methodologically speaking, memories are at their most collective when they transcend the time and space of the events’ original occurrence. As such, they take on a powerful life of their own, ‘unencumbered’ by actual individual memory, and become the basis of all collective remembering as disembodied, omnipresent, low-intensity memory” (p. 189).

 

Keightley, E., Pickering, M., Allett, N. (2012). The self-interview: a new method in social science research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 15(6), 507-521.

Memory studies explore a diversity of methodologies, such as qualitative in-depth interviews, written diaries and video/audio diaries, each one with advantages and limitations. The authors discuss virtues and problems with methods often used in this field and outline the self-interview, a methodological strategy designed to overcome some of the difficulties in obtaining data with proper depth and density. “The virtue of the self-interview is that it involves a combination of performing acts of remembering and reflecting on them. This can provide a distinct route into the meanings of memory and experience of remembering not so readily available via other social science methods” (p. 512).

 

Krause, F., Garde-Hansen, J., Whyte, N. (2012). Flood memories – media, narratives and remembrance of wet landscapes in England. Journal of Arts & Communities, 4(1-2), 128-142.

Discussing the interconnectedness between personal and collective memories of flooding events, the authors argue that flood narratives should be understood as creative processes which are “always already caught up in wider narratives and memories, in terms of identity, place, time and becoming” (p. 132). “Producing, altering and maintaining these memories, today as in the past, happens in the relational field of experiences of changing landscapes, personal and communal identity formation, and the media available to record and share these memories (…) So, crucially, individual memories of flooding and wateriness are dynamic, imaginative, and directed in and from their present but with open connectivity to other times and places” (p. 136).

 

Mistry, J., Berardi, A., Haynes, L., Davis, D., Xavier, R. and Andries, J. (2014). The role of social memory in natural resource management: insights from participatory video. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 39, 115-127.

“Within social-ecological systems (SESs) – where human and ecological components are tightly integrated through feedback interactions over a range of scales (…), social memory could play an important role in building adaptive fitness and resilience (…). This is especially significant for indigenous SESs as they are in the process of rapidly evolving in response to both internal biophysical and social changes, but also in dealing with emerging external social-ecological challenges (…)”, write the authors (p. 115). This paper reports on a study of social memory and the use of participatory video, a technique “involving a group or community in shaping and creating their own films according to their own sense of what is important, and how they want to be represented” (p. 115), to elicit social memory in indigenous communities of the North Rupununi, Guyana.

 

Misztal, B. A. (2003). Theories of social remembering. Maidenhead: Open University.

This books examines the “contribution of sociological theories to our understanding of the workings of memory, and to evaluate to what extent such studies have challenged our understanding of various forms of collective memory and their role in different societies” (p. 1). The author supports an “intersubjectivist approach”, which “advocates the study of social contexts in which even the most personal memories are embedded, and the investigation of the social formation of memory by exploring the conditions and factors that make remembering in common possible (…)” (p. 6). The “gap between experiencing an event and remembering it, filled up by our creative interpretation of the past, constitutes memory. Moreover, we recall and memorize the past which is passed to us in various cultural practices and forms, which further suggests the social construction of the past as its memory is located in a wide range of cultural routines, institutions and artefacts” (p. 6).

 

Nykvist, B., J. von Heland (2014). Social-ecological memory as a source of general and specified resilience. Ecology and Society, 19(2): 47.

Adaptations to climate change or adaptive strategies for environmental management are associated to sources of resilience to manage social-ecological systems (SESs), which can be seen as ways of creating capacity to “cope with, adapt to, and shape the system under uncertainty and surprise”, write the authors (p. 1). Such capacity grows and accumulates over time. “Social-ecological memory (SEM), defined as the accumulated experiences and history of ecosystem management collectively held by a community in an SES (…), is described as one such source of resilience to nurture and draw from in adaptive governance of SESs” (p. 1). The literature on resilience “gives two different descriptions of the role of social memories in management. On one hand, it is suggested as a desirable source of renewal, innovation, and reorganization. On the other, it is suggested as an undesirable source of traps, rigidity, inertia, and path dependency” (p. 1).

 

Olick, J. K., Robbins, J. (1998). Social memory studies: from collective memory to the historical sociology of mnemonic practices. Annu. Rev. Sociol, 24, 105-140.

A wide range of uses of the concept of social memory through the modern history of social sciences is appraised by the authors, who look for central characteristics to make it easier to understand this area of research. However, only with new lines of research it would be possible to determine the contribution of those studies to the understanding of the social dynamics, since so far a “deconstructionist mode” had prevailed, in the sense that a dominant trend was the concern with questioning the hegemony of history over memory. “While the recent period of inquiry into the history and dynamics of social memory seems to have fed this deconstructive mood (and vice versa), we hope that further research will help us resolve some of the conflicts or at least manage them better” (p. 134).


Olick, J. K., Vinitzky-Seroussi, V., Levy, D. (eds.) (2011). The collective memory reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Divided into five parts, this book is a compilation of fundamental texts which serve both as inspiration and guidance to memory studies. “Precursors and classics”, “History, memory, and identity”, “Power, politics, and contestation”, “Media and modes of transmission” and “Memory, justice, and contemporary epoch” offer a wide range of perspectives underpinning a “memory boom” that would have “given rise to varieties of inquiry, including science, scholarship, memoir writing, curatorial work, oral history projects, and the like” (p. 10). The editors “sought to carve out of often richly illustrative and complexly argued texts the central definition, concept, or novel idea that has been, or in our opinion should be, a stimulus to further thought” (p. 63).


Reading, A. (2011). Six dynamics of the globital memory field. In Neiger, M., Meyers, O., Zandberg, E. (eds.) On media memory: collective memory in a new media age (pp. 241-252). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

How to understand the complexities involved when a smartphone becomes the most used tool to circulate images and accounts that will be key in activating / producing / circulating memories about local events in a global scale? This chapter helps to lay the grounds for answers to that question. It approaches the problem by sketching the concept of a “globital memory field”, which “invokes the use of multimodal, transversal methodologies and analysis of the dynamics of digital traces and trajectories (code and language) and their constellations within socioeconomic formations” (p. 251). “The globital memory field is characterized by memory assemblages that have multiple non-linear transmedial trajectories and connectivities that may be uneven and contradictory” and “requires new grounds of knowledge for the study of media memory that implicates research designs for the study of memory, as well as the development of more transdisciplinary and traveling methodologies that reconfigure forms of analysis” (p. 251).

 

Schmidt, S. J. (2010). Memory and remembrance: a constructivist approach. In Nünning, A., Erll, A. (eds.) A companion to cultural memory studies (pp. 191-201). Berlin: Gruyter.

The role of memory in the formation of new ways of apprehending the world around us is discussed by this article, which dismisses the most basic assumptions on the subject: “the function of the brain does not consist in storing past events for a shorter or longer time”, writes the author (p. 192). “Instead, it evaluates the relevance of all cognitive processes on the basis of previous experiences. Its function therefore exceeds by far the storage function, since it is in force in perception, remembrance, attention, cognition, action, and evaluation. Knowledge of presuppositions and schemata operates as the mechanism for creating order. Together with the capacity to discern between what is new and what is well known, the brain thus provides these processes with clarity and safety. Memory conceived of as a function of the brain which is distributed over the whole neuronal system organizes itself on the basis of its own history; consequently it is plausible to say that it does not represent but rather constructs reality” (p. 192).