Christian Pentzold

Memory is a communicative affair. Throughout history, a growing diversity of symbols and genres of communication have shaped how we come to remember and forget the past. Indeed, memory comes to matter when it is communicated: people connect to a collective past, return to personal reminiscences, and revive bygone moments but also impair, inhibit, or prevent memories by way of communication. It is the prime mode through which the past is enacted in the present. Unsurprisingly, the majority of studies into the practice of lived remembering operate with a notion of communicative memory, often in conjunction with the kindred concept of cultural memory.
The special collection interrogates the current forms of communicative memory making. It starts from the idea that while communication is at the heart of commemoration processes, it has recently been sidelined by a focus on (media) technologies. These rapidly changing material environments attracted much scholarly attention around questions of living digital archives, virtual memory places, and media archaeology. Yet the actual communicative exchanges that happen on the cognitive level, in the often machine-mediated interactions between people, and the social realm at-large have received considerably less interest.
The special collection invites contributions that address the ways, data, services, and platforms enable communicative remembering across the scale from micro-level mental operations to macro-level societal processes. We assume that transforming media will leave their mark on how we engage with the past, interact with others, employ artifacts and documents, and thus construct memories. We also believe that memory making within and through these technologies means inclusion of some people and groups and exclusion of others. Reconsidering how communicative remembering has changed and how it is done today will also allow us to scrutinize some standard distinction on which the field is built. Hence, dichotomies such as communicative memory versus cultural memory, personal versus family versus public memory, cognitive memory versus social memory seem in need of re-thinking and renewal when considered from the point of digitally networked communication. With its focus on the active side of remembrance, the special collection aims at a tenet of memory studies yet it also reaches out to connate disciplines which share this interest, like cognitive science and psychology, science and technology studies, communication, political science, anthropology, and sociology. Read the full collection here.