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Media, Memory and Migration. The Communicative Figuration of 'Remembering and Reviving' in the 'Age of Migration'

"Media, Memory and Migration. The Communicative Figuration of 'Remembering and Reviving' in the 'Age of Migration'", Vortrag von H.-U. Wagner auf der Preconference "Media, Communication and Memory in the Digital Age" zur 7th European Communication Conference (ECC) der European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) am 31. Oktober 2018 in Lugano.

My proposal will discuss the concept of communicative figurations in the emerging field that is defined by the triangulation of media, memory, and migration.
In 2016, the prestigious scholar Aleida Assmann called for a European space of memory which shall include flight and expulsion (Assmann 2016), a realm of multidirectional memory according to Michael Rothberg (2009). She claimed anything but a new ‘narrative’, a political plea in times of a so-called ‘refugee crisis’. Within this ongoing debate a body of studies have been published since the last few years. From a wide range of disciplines various proposals have been made to analyse migration as a core issue of our societies – take e.g. Gerhard Vowe’s seven tendencies within the political communication of the ‘migration crisis’ (Vowe 2016); and David Morley’s ‘redefining communications’ and his ‘contextualist approach’ (Morley 2016) – to name only two studies.
For the pre-conference, I take Assmann’s prominent statement as a point of departure. My paper asks how research can properly be undertaken in order to understand ongoing processes referring to this topic. According to the cfp the focus is more on methodological and conceptual questions less on case studies and empirical results so far at hand. With the paper I would like to invite colleagues to discuss how ‘remembering and reviving’ (see Pentzold/Lohmeier/Hajek 2015) in the ‘age of migration’ (Gatrell 2015) and along processes of mediatization (Hepp/Hartmann 2010) can be analysed at the intersection of memory, migration, and media studies as well as contemporary history.
To do so, I would like to take the concept of ‘communicative figurations’ (Hepp/Hasebrink 2017), because it explicitly starts with media change and asks for the consequences coming out the changes in times of ‘deep mediatization’ (Hepp/Communicative Figurations research network 2017). I would like to employ this concept to the emerging field that is defined by the triangulation of media, memory, and migration. If we consider this field a social domain we can analyse it as a communicative figuration, i.e. as a – typically cross-media – pattern of interweaving through practices of communication, guided by dominating frames of relevance, constructed by actors. In concrete terms, we can systematically ask: Who is part of the production, dissemination, and implementation of migratory memory (actor constellation)? What are the overall concepts that guide them (frame of relevance)? What are the communicative practices across the various media that construct the topic (communicative practices)? The leading question is: What consequences by media change can be observed in the field?
To make the paper a fruitful input for in-depth discussion I will highlight the benefits that can be taken from such a well-structured but open concept – assets both for memory studies based on empirical data by media and communication studies as for media and communication history engaged with migratory processes. At the end, this will also give us the chance to discuss Aleida Assmann’s political plea from a differentiated perspective anew.
Assmann, Aleida (2016): Ein europäischer Gedächtnisraum, der uns zusammenbringt - Wie können wir an Flucht und Vertreibung in der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts erinnern? Einführungsvortrag zum 5. Europäischen Geschichtsforum am 23. und 24. Mai 2016. Online available: https://www.boell.de/de/2016/06/22/erinnerung-flucht-und-vertreibung-nach-dem-zweiten-weltkrieg.
Gatrell, Peter (2015): The Making of the Modern Refugee. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hepp, Andreas; Hartmann, Maren (2010): Mediatisierung als Metaprozess: Der analytische Zugang von Friedrich Krotz zur Mediatisierung der Alltagswelt. In: Maren Hartmann/Andreas Hepp (Eds.): Die Mediatisierung der Alltagswelt. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 1-19.
Hepp, Andreas; Hasebrink, Uwe (2017): Kommunikative Figurationen. Ein konzeptioneller Rahmen zur Erforschung kommunikativer Konstruktionsprozesse in Zeiten tiefgreifender Mediatisierung. In: Medien und Kommunikationswissenschaft 65 (2), 330-347.
Hepp, Andreas; "Communicative Figurations" research network (2017): Transforming Communications. Media-related Changes in Times of Deep Mediatization. Bremen: Research Network "Communicative Figurations" (Communicative Figurations. Working Paper, 16).
Hepp, Andreas; Breiter, Andreas; Hasebrink, Uwe (Eds.) (2018): Communicative Figurations. Transforming Communications in Times of Deep Mediatization. Houndsmill et al.: Palgrave Macmillan
Morley, David (2017): Communications and mobility: the migrant, the mobile phone, and the container box. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Pentzold, Christian/Lohmeier, Christine/Hajek, Andreas (2015): Introduction: Remembering and Reviving in States of Flux. In: Hajek, Andreas; et al. (Eds.): Memory in a Mediated World: Remembrance and Reconstruction. Houndmills et al.: Palgrave Macmillan, 1-12.
Rothberg, Michael: Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. Stanford: University Press 2009.
Vowe, Gerhard (2016): Politische Kommunikation in der Migrationskrise. Der strukturelle Wandel der Kommunikation als Herausforderung für Politik und Wissenschaft. In: Publizistik 61 (4), 431-440.


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