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Communicating Memory & History

Edited By Nicole Maurantonio and David W. Park

Communicating Memory & History takes as its mission the job of giving communication history its full due in the study of memory. Taking three keywords—communication, history, and memory—representing related, albeit at times hostile, fields of inquiry as its point of departure, this book asks how the interdisciplinary field of memory studies can be productively expanded through the work of communication historians. Across the chapters of this book, contributors employ methods ranging from textual analysis to reception studies to prompt larger questions about how the past can be alternately understood, contested, and circulated.

Communicating Memory & History is ideal for teaching, including case studies that elaborate different ways to approach issues in memory studies. While some foundational knowledge would be useful, it is possible to use the text without extensive knowledge of the literature. This book is of particular interest to professors, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students of communication and media studies, as well as scholars and students in cultural studies, history, and sociology—disciplines where one finds steady consideration of issues related to communication, communication history, and memory.

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1. Interscalarity and the Memory Spectrum (Emily Keightley / Michael Pickering / Pawas Bisht)

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1. Interscalarity and the Memory Spectrum

EMILY KEIGHTLEY, MICHAEL PICKERING, AND PAWAS BISHT

Introduction

We begin with a paradox. Over the past thirty years or so the concept of collective memory has been central to the development of memory studies, yet despite this it remains beset with a number of unresolved problems. Chief among them are its relationship with individual memory, and its own constitutive forms and dynamics, distinct from those of individual remembering. How collective memory relates to and is at the same time extraneous to individual memory are issues that have not been satisfactorily resolved, even though collective memory has been a preoccupation in memory studies to a much greater extent than personal and interpersonal remembering. There have of course been rewarding studies of autobiographical memory, but in proceeding at least initially via the anti-individualist approach of its founding figure, Maurice Halbwachs, memory studies has assigned conceptual primacy to collective memory, so placing it, implicitly or otherwise, hierarchically a long way above individual memory in its multiform significance. This is what is paradoxical: in light of such primacy, the term ‘collective memory’ is all too often vaguely conceived and loosely formulated. Consequently, we still know surprisingly little about the ways in which collective memory operates, or rather how individuals and collectives interact in processes and practices of remembering. Even though remembering is indelibly social, it is, after all, individuals as members of social groups who...

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