8 luglio 2013

Memory communities and the Internet

Abstract della lezione tenuta il 3 luglio 2013, presso l'Università di Koper (Capodistria)

Collected Memories
Collected Memories (zonesofemergency.mit.edu)
The Internet can be considered as a contemporary form of collective memory: not only an archive of documents, images and personal accounts, but the place where it is possible to observe various processes of social construction of shared memories and representations.

Several are the cases of online communities devoted to gathering and organising memories, in the form of photographs, narratives, biographies, videos, audio, etc. Generally, they are connected to a place, or to particular social groups, what make these communities of great interest in themselves, for their inner social processes — and not only as a source of historical materials.

Currently, online communities are often (self)organised by means of social networks sites (SNS) like Facebook or Twitter, probably more than forums, discussion boards or newsletters — as until the 90s. It is then also easy to notice, within these SNS, the existence of accounts, pages and groups referring to — and supporting — national identities in diasporic, transitional or otherwise critical and conflictual situations, as well as national claims and ethnic conflicts.

These experiences are interesting under two different respects. First, these communities have made possible the retrieval of historical materials, which would be impossible to find, being dispersed in private homes, and sometimes in many different countries. Secondly, these communities can be also considered not only as ‘collectors’ of memories, but places where collective memories and identities are socially (re)constructed.

The lecture will present recent contributions and experiences in the field, and some Italian memory communities: www.romasparita.eu, a community aimed at collecting private photographs of XIX and XX century Rome, casually born on Facebook (Roma.Sparita); and the international project Memoro (www.memoro.org/it/), aimed at gathering biographies and other historical materials.

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