Between Archive and Participation: Public Memory in a Digital Age

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the memorial functions of the internet in light of recent scholarly debates about virtues and drawbacks of modern “archival memory” as well as the paradoxical link between the contemporary public obsession with memory and the acceleration of amnesia. It suggests that “digital memory”, more than any other form of mediation, collapses the assumed distinction between modern “archival” memory and traditional “lived” memory by combining the function of storage and ordering on the one hand, and of presence and interactivity on the other. The chapter illustrates the merits and limitations of electronic media as vehicles of collecting, preserving, and displaying traces of the past, and examines The September 11 Digital Archive, a comprehensive online effort to document public involvement in commemorating the tragedy of 11 September 2001. Ironically, in so doing the Archive is trying to balance its open submission policy that generated plenty of politically incorrect and even offensive material in the name of popular participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFifty Years of Rhetoric Society Quarterly
Subtitle of host publicationSelected Readings, 1968-2018
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781351611398
ISBN (Print)9781138086708
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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