Commemoration, Participatory Culture, and Democratic Citizenship
Approaching commemorations as both representations of civic identity and politically consequential sites of stranger interaction, Popular Memories investigates four distinct examples of participatory commemoration: the United States Postal Service's "Celebrate the Century" stamp and education program, the September 11 Digital Archive, the first post-Katrina Carnival in New Orleans, and a traveling memorial to the human cost of the Iraq War.
Despite differences in sponsorship, genre, historical scope, and political purpose, all of these commemorations relied on voluntary participation of ordinary citizens in selecting, producing, or performing interpretations of distant or recent historical events. These collectively produced interpretations—or popular memories—in turn prompted interactions between people, inviting them to celebrate, to mourn, or to bear witness. The book's comparison of the four case studies suggests that popular memories make for stronger or weaker sites of civic engagement depending on whether or not they allow for public affirmation of the individual citizen's contribution and for experiencing alternative identities and perspectives. By systematically accounting for grassroots memory practices, consumerism, tourism, and rituals of popular identity, Haskins's study enriches our understanding of contemporary memory culture and citizenship.
About the Author
"Popular Memories is a vital addition to the rhetorical study of public memory in that it draws attention to the often neglected elements of citizen engagement and participation. By exploring different forms of participatory commemoration, Haskins demonstrates the ways that engagement can be energized or minimized and the potential impact such engagement might have on democratic culture."—Kendall Phillips, professor of communication and rhetorical studies, Syracuse University
"I was absolutely enthralled by Haskin's book. It was engagingly argued, exhaustively researched, elegantly written, and theoretically transformative. Her narrative reconstruction of the case studies drew me in, offering both broad historical context and vivid contemporary detail. Instead of rehashing old distinctions between vernacular and official, or ephemeral and physical, she focuses our attention on the relationship between commemorative practices and citizenship, asking, 'What modes of civic engagement does this participatory experience promote?"—Catherine H. Palczewski, professor of communication studies, University of Northern Iowa
Other Titles by Ekaterina V. Haskins
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