Research Methods for Cultural Studies

By Michael Pickering | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Engaging with Memory

Emily Keightley

Memory has enjoyed a well charted resurgence in the postwar period in cultural production, social life and academic study (see Huyssen 2000; Misztal 2003; Radstone 2000). The social dislocations that occurred in the aftermath of the world wars, and the radical trauma of the Holocaust, threw into sharp relief issues of remembrance and commemoration (Wolf 2004; Margalit 2002). In more recent years, a growing disillusionment with the rhetoric of progress which has been so central to modernity has required a reconsideration of pasts that had been hurriedly discarded. At this historical juncture memory is becoming an increasingly key feature of popular culture, from the booming heritage industry to the Radio Four ‘Memory Experience’ series in 2006. Unsurprisingly, memory as both a subject and as a mode of investigation is becoming increasingly common in the field of cultural studies.

In contemporary academia the resurgence of memory is not so much contested in terms of its occurrence but in terms of its implications for the construction of individual and collective temporal identities and historically rooted cultures. This would at first seem a non-sequitur, how can a boom in popular memory result in anything other than an enhancement of historicity and increasingly democratised relationship towards studying history? However, the positioning of memory and history in a hierarchical relationship has contributed to the insidious construction of memory as a vernacular impersonation of professional historiography (Weissberg 1999: 11–12), with the verifiable, document-led reconstructions of professional history being set against subjective fantasies of experience lost to time.

This chapter is part of a growing body of work that seeks to resist this valuation and emphasise the importance of memory as a topic of research and a mode of investigation by considering memory on its own terms, rather than via the epistemological criteria born of elitist academic history and by the more generalised influence of empiricism in the social sciences. Here, memory will

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Research Methods for Cultural Studies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Section One - Lives and Lived Experiences 15
  • Chapter 1 - Experience and the Social World 17
  • Chapter 2 - Stories and the Social World 32
  • Section Two - Production and Consumption 51
  • Chapter 3 - Investigating Cultural Producers 53
  • Chapter 4 - Investigating Cultural Consumers 68
  • Section Three - Quantity and Quality 87
  • Chapter 5 - Why Counting Counts 89
  • Chapter 6 - Why Observing Matters 105
  • Section Four - Texts and Pictures 123
  • Chapter 7 - Analysing Visual Experience 125
  • Chapter 8 - Analysing Discourse 150
  • Section 5 - Linking with the Past 173
  • Chapter 9 - Engaging with Memory 175
  • Chapter 10 - Engaging with History 193
  • Bibliography 214
  • Notes on Contributors 234
  • Index 237
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