• Speakers for the Dead: Digital Memory and the Construction of Identity

    Alana Vincent (see profile)
    Collective memory, Identity (Psychology), Arendt, Hannah, 1906-1975
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Orson Scott Card, Charlie Hebdo, solidarity, Cultural memory, Identity, Digital culture, Hannah Arendt
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    In the wake of the 2015 killing of twelve people at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, thousands of individuals – many of whom had never before seen a copy of the paper – changed their Face- book statuses and profile pictures, or broadcast Twitter updates, to proclaim ‘Je suis Charlie’. A month previous, a similar outpouring of digital senti- ment took place in response to a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict white police officers who had been filmed choking to death a black man named Eric Garner: the hashtag #icantbreathe. Approximately eighteen months later, the shooting of fifty people during Latinx Night at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, gave rise to #WeAreOrlando. In this paper, I wish to consider these mourning rituals not as an entirely new phenomenon, but as a continuation of a much longer historical trend in which, as I have argued at some length in previous publications, public memorialization functions to construct and enforce a collective identity. I do not intend to repeat that previous argument within this essay; I am instead more interested in discussing the politics of the ‘us’ – the imagined community that is con- structed in part by these commemorative rituals – making some suggestions about whether, and how, the problematic notion of collective identity is transforming in the digital age.
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    4 years ago
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