Communicating Memory Matters in Networked Environments

Special Issue of Memory, Mind & Media

Special Guest Editors: Christine Lohmeier (University of Salzburg, Austria) & Christian Pentzold (Leipzig University, Germany)

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 issue of Memory, Mind & Media will interrogate 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 issue invites contributions that address the ways in which 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 distinctions 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 issue aims at a tenet of memory studies yet it promises to also reach out to connate disciplines which share this interest, like cognitive science and psychology, science and technology studies, communication, political science, anthropology, and sociology.

Papers could address but are not limited to the following themes:

  • conceptualization of memory work in times of networked media environments
  • processes of inclusion and exclusion in acts of communicative remembering
  • the formation of new memory collectives
  • the impact of digital communication on remembering and forgetting in-between the individual and the collective level
  • continuities and changes in communicative remembering and forgetting within complex networked communication
  • the activities and positions of (new) memory agents in networked environments
  • collaborative memory and communication among families, couples, small and large groups

Timeline and procedure

500 to 700 word abstracts should be sent to by October 3, 2022. The abstract should articulate: 1) the issue or research question to be discussed, 2) the methodological or critical framework used, and 3) the expected findings or conclusions. Feel free to consult with the Special Issue Editors about your article ideas and potential angles or approaches.

Decisions will be communicated to the authors by November 15, 2022. Invited paper submissions will be due May 2, 2023 and will be submitted directly to the submission site for Memory, Mind & Media: where they will undergo peer review following the usual procedures of Memory, Mind & Media. The invitation to submit a full article does not guarantee acceptance into the special issue. The special issue is scheduled for publication in early 2024.