New book examines public memory and mass media

By Staff on August 28, 2012


WACC’s deputy-director of programmes and editor of its journal Media Development, Philip Lee, and WACC’s former director of studies, Pradip N. Thomas, have joined forces to publish a collection of essays focusing on mediated public memory and its relationship to the politics of justice.

“This book aims to provide a context in which a clear link can be traced between the politics of memory and its manifold representations and misrepresentations in public media towards a viable politics of justice. The assumption is that public awareness and perceptions of injustice, whether they are political, economic or social, depend on the mass media of communication for recognition and valorisation – including, today, new communication and information technologies such as social media platforms,” say the editors in their Introduction.

Public Memory, Public Media and the Politics of Justice asks how do the construction, representation and distortion of public memory affect the way we treat other people? How is policy-making influenced by the way the media cover contentious issues such as the ongoing but largely ignored conflict between Russia and Chechnya? Or the claims of indigenous people in Peru to know what really happened during the war against the Shining Path, or South Africa’s post-apartheid attempts to build a new nation?

Dr Anna Reading (University of Western Sydney, Australia), a specialist in memory studies and one of the contributors to the book, believes that it is vital to focus on the difficult and important question of whether there should be an international human right to memory and what this would mean for the politics of justice. “This is an extremely timely and significant book that tackles a growing area of media and memory studies. The book has an international line up of authors who have provided insightful and original material from around the world.”

The book contains 11 chapters including an introduction titled “Public Media and the Right to Memory: Towards an Encounter with Justice.” Authors focus on the contexts of Peru, Argentina, East Timor, South Africa, Rwanda, the Roma in Europe, Chechnya, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Caribbean.

The editors note that the evidence reinforces “the claim that public awareness and understanding of political, economic and social injustice crucially depend on mass mediation in order to give visibility and recognition to those collective memories that underlie the real and symbolic integrity of a community or nation.”

Public Memory, Public Media and the Politics of Justice argues that “those responsible for the content of mass-mediated products and artefacts... have a clear ethical obligation to opt for inclusion rather than exclusion, information rather than misinformation, representation rather than misrepresentation. In short, within the broader framework of communication rights... public communication based on freedom of expression and freedom of information must be exercised in such a way that democratic ideals can flourish to guarantee and protect public memory.”

The book is widely available from booksellers, including the publisher. Public Memory, Public Media and the Politics of Justice, edited by Philip Lee and Pradip N. Thomas. Palgrave Macmillan (2012). ISBN 978-0-230-35406-7.

By Staff| August 28, 2012
Categories:  News

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