Material Culture

Forgetting to remember

We are the memory collectors.

We did a lot on trying to keep instant into infinite, the specific moment we record to make it into another artifact that we could preserve them from passing time. The prosthetic memory give us more possibilities of knowing and constructing our own memory which is a sharing of the world that we are the same citizen of ‘earth’, the imagined community ‘closely connected to the posthuman'( Lury 1997) The construction of our memories contains many aspects, not only with ourselves, but also other things happened without us, and still influence our identities when we remember them. This kind of collective memory, not single or private, is the main theme of our topic.

‘This new form of memory, which I call prosthetic memory, emerges at the interface between a person and a historical narrative about the past, at an experiential site such as a movie theater or museum. ‘And from his results, he claimed that prosthetic memory has the ability to shape that person’s subjectivity and politics. (Landsberg 2004)

As to build our culture background, I learned a lot of stories and been taught and informed a lot in my 9-year-compulsory school life, in the conditions of Chinese tradition, I was told many post-memories of the great event happened in my country before, in our Mandarin, history and politic courses. As Chinese student, we all know that they are trying to pass on the psyche from the old generations which could keep our culture identity in a huge scale. Our history is too long, its not easy to remember most part of the things in a 5000-year-old country, but we still remembered most of the important ones, and I feel like once I’ve learned, it is not easy to forget especially when it has connections with my emotion.

Its not right to say forgetting is good or bad, but I can understand that it is both natural and intend. We can’t remember everything because we need to balance our brain and sometimes escape from the disadvantages, leading by our nature. That is the why we forget as Annulment, Planned Obsolescence and Humiliated silence, (Connerton 2008) that is why we forget to remember. But some of them even we will forget in a short time, we need something to help us remind them of such as an object which has the link with the affair. Photograph is a good example of an effectively media. ‘Photography has come to shape what we now understand as the individual and his or her relation to consciousness, memory and embodiment.’ ( Lury 2013) Because of photograph, we could have more prosthetic memories and getting to become a multiple culture citizen with national identity in a mass media world in the future.’Cultural and individual memory are constantly produced through, and mediated by, the technologies of memory.’ (Sturken 2008)

‘It is extraordinary to consider the degree to which the still photograph
has been so central to scholarship on memory, and the role that the photograph
continues to play in concepts of memory. …photography has been endowed with particular kinds of cultural meanings – as a trace of the real, evidence of the past and a harbinger of death – that exemplify modernity’s ambivalent embrace of the new while holding onto a nostalgia for the past.’  (ibid)

In this case, our task is to link our object to a media photograph that ties in with the memory of our own object. My object was given in the UK, as my friend took this as a souvenir for me after she traveled, and I remembered before she left, I told her to be careful due to it’s not safe around in Europe. That was the period after  ISIS attacked Paris, and claimed that the next one is London, in Christmas. That was close to the end of last  year in 2015, and I felt I was so close to be around the danger than in China, cause there are lots of middle east refugees in Europe. And the public transportation such as airplane and train are potentially carrying the unknown terrors. So I think traveling might be dangerous at that time, and felt more concerned about her travel. So after her back, this gift also carried a history of my life in UK, that when I see it in the future in China, the life as an international student in Europe, during the big event in France, could be an unforgettable experience.


Until now, Paris Terror Attacks has been passed for several months, but no one know what will happen next. As ISIS just attacked the airport of Belgium on the 22 March, we all know that they are not far. Within the latest news with me, the politic and history is making the identity for me on going, I am experiencing the process of building up the cultural memories for my future, and even it’s happening now, even I sometimes forget as Humiliated Silence, but the news of ISIS will quickly spread all over the UK and we will be in the shadow of sadness. As Landsberg (2004) discusses collective memory held as groups altogether, which I am experiencing how it influenced my life and my circumstances built affected by others, thus the new historical context will be in Paris when people get there, is constantly changing.




Connerton, P. (2008) Seven types of forgetting. Memory Studies, 1 (1), 59-71.

Hughes, C., Lury, C. (2013) Re-turning feminist methodologies: from a social to an ecological epistemology.Gender and Education, 25(6), 786-799.

Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.

Sturken, M. (2008) Memory, Consumerism and Media: Reflections on the Emergence of the Field. Memory Studies 1 (1), 73-78.



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