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Digital Memory Studies

Andrew Hoskins (University of Glasgow)

“Digital Memory Studies: The Right to be Forgotten in Post-Scarcity Culture”

New Frontiers in Memory Studies

Frankfurt, 04 November 2014

Video recording of the talk

The contemporary’s compulsion to be and to feel connected with and via increasingly portable and pervasive digital networks has ushered in a tranche of new uncertainties. These include the very nature and uses of the past that once offered greater security in the flux of an accelerating present. This presentation sets out a vision of post-scarcity culture: a society struggling to cope with the new digital immediacy, volume and scale of its past: a new imbalance in the creation, adaptation, and circulation of memory (Winter 2006).

This includes a past made newly present that is vulnerable to the techno-cultural messiness of post-scarcity culture, but which also reverberate around the institutional ethical mores of the day. For example, in recent years the hyperconnectivity of new memory has delivered an institutional crisis in the UK – of police, of government and of journalism – in the convergence of key scandals, either newly emergent or being seen anew through fresh revelations about them. Notably, this includes the 2012-4 post-scarcity avalanche of claims, speculations, investigations and prosecutions of historical child abuse.

This talk takes a Digital Memory Studies’ approach to these circumstances, and concludes that the European proposal for a right to be forgotten and to erasure is symptomatic of a loss of control over hyperconnectivity, and is nostalgic for a previous era when the media of memory seemed more governable.

Andrew Hoskins is Interdisciplinary Research Professor at the University of Glasgow, UK. He is founding Editor-in-Chief of the Sage Journal of Memory Studies and is founding Co-Editor of the Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies book series. His forthcoming work includes: (with John Tulloch) Risk and Hyperconnectivity: Media, Memory, Uncertainty (Oxford University Press, 2015). Twitter: @andrewhoskins