After the Archive: Remapping Memory
Culture & Psychology 16 (1): 5-35 (2010)

In this paper I make the case that the notion of memory—the very idea that there is a particular capacity that enables us to remember, to store, and to recall experiences and knowledge, and that in doing so constitutes an essential part of our existence—is in the midst of dissolving. I explore this dissolution of ‘memory’ as an epistemological and cultural paradigm shift. This shift can be observed in a broad spectrum of scientific and scholarly developments and, moreover, in literary, artistic, and public discourses. What all of these have challenged is the idea of memory as storage, an archive. I review four areas of research whose results and debates have fuelled this ‘memory crisis’: the social and cultural, the technological, the literary and the artistic, and the biological and cognitive. At the same time, we find in all these fields emerging perspectives that reach beyond the idea of memory as an archive, offering visions of more open, fleeting, social and cultural practices of remembering and forgetting.
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