The Value of Autobiographical Memory in Media Advocacy Campaign_3

A Case Study of Crowdfunding: the Campaign for the film “Sprits’ Homecoming” in South Korea


Memory and Media Advocacy

Memory and History

Memory and history are so deeply related that no one really can say which one is more valuable when it comes to truth seeking. The distinction that historians would draw between history and memory is that history is engaged to seek truth, and memory is winnowed out or discarded in a process of natural selection made by historians. Based on this notion, the statement made by Halbwachs that ‘history is dead memory’ can be considered (cited in Olick & Robbins 1998). This assertion somewhat negates the self-image of historiography devaluing the meaningfulness of memory in terms of an appropriate attitude toward the past.

Some critiques of this notion of the relation between history and memory are based on recent approaches, that consider history to exist nor just in the official version but in the social and cultural terms of memory. The selection and interpretation of memory/sources have become arbitrary in the process of writing history (Olick & Robbins 1998).

According to Halbwachs (cited in Olick & Robbins 1998), autobiographical memory refers to our own experience in the contrast to historical memory, which is historical events that we all remember through historical records. Collective memory can form our identities as it is considered more active compared to historical memory. However, historical memory can be organic/active sometimes when people celebrate something together, even though they did not directly experience it. Hence, different types of memory affect a creation of history, as history can be defined as the remembered past (Olick & Robbins 1998).

Cultural memory is something different as it is shared through cultural products and thus has cultural meaning. In the twentieth century, we use a new system which enabled digitisation of information through electronic recording and transmitting. This change has provided new ways of conceptualising memory (Olick & Robbins 1998). Accordingly, cultural memory can be examined in the context of media culture since most cultural products have been formed through digital technologies. 

Shaping Cultural Memory through Media

Cultural memory, once again, is formed by communication through media. It used to be reproduced through speech, such as when grandparents tell their story about the old days to children. Writing, film and the Internet are considered more sophisticated media technologies that help to shape cultural memory as shared versions of the past among people. What would be the requisite of power for media to produce and shape cultural memory? It can be argued within, between, and around the media (Erll, Nünning & Young 2008).

Firstly, intra-medial strategies are considered the requisites within the media as a form of collective memory based on four modes: the experiential, the mythical, the antagonistic, and the reflexive. The experiential modes represent the past as recent. The mythical modes describes foundational events in mythical way. The antagonistic mode includes negative stereotyping of conflicting memory cultures. The montage of different versions of the past are considered in the reflexive mode. All these modes help us to have an illusion of the past through media (Erll, Nünning & Young 2008).

Secondly, inter-medial relations can be argued to be one of the factors in forming cultural memory between the media. Pre-mediation and remediation are examined as a double movement in the interaction; meaning that memorable events are represented again and again in different media over decades and centuries, and that is how it creates a power in cultural memory. In the same context, comparable events provide schemata for later events, as they not only depict the past, – this is what the term “pre-mediation” refers to. Remediation tends to solidify cultural memory created in the first stage through different modes of representation, it stabilises certain icons of the past. Therefore, the boundaries between historical events as documentary material and fictional stories based on the events are often blurred in the course of remediation (Erll, Nünning & Young 2008). 

Thirdly, around the media affects cultural memory as “pluri-medial networks.” This stage refers to a collective phenomenon, not just a creation of cultural products – as films or books that no one watched or read will not have any influence in creating cultural memory. This means a certain kind of context is required for cultural products to become memory-shaping media. All those advertisements, comments, and discussions are considered as the context of the media networks surrounding cultural products (Erll, Nünning & Young 2008).     

In conclusion, powerful media has a memory-making effect, it needs to be analysed at an individual level and a collective level at the same time. Media representations at the individual level provide us a schemata of certain images of the past based on autobiographical memories. When the representation can provide cues for the discussion of those images in society, cultural memory can be shaped at the collective level. Therefore, cultural memory can be examined in the current media cultures we live in (Erll, Nünning & Young 2008). 


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