New Article Published: Querying the Internet as a Mnemonic Practice

A new article co-authored by Andrei Zavadski and Florian Toepfl has been published by the journal Media, Culture & Society.  The article is entitled "Querying the Internet as a Mnemonic Practice: How Search Engines Mediate Four Types of Past Events in Russia". 

 

Abstract 

 

In the digital memories literature, the practice of searching for information – one of the most frequent online activities worldwide – has received comparatively little attention. To fill the gap, this exploratory study asks how search engines affect the representations of the past that they produce in query results. Designed as a single revelatory case study, with a focus on Russia, this article delineates a typology of four types of memory events based on four types of websites dominating search results. For each type of event, we discuss recurring locations and mechanisms of power struggles over competing memory narratives. We conclude that within Russia’s authoritarian context, the mnemonic practice of Internet searching tends to reproduce and reinforce the dominant narratives supported by the ruling elites. Search engine companies are thus only one of several powerful institutions that constitute the social framework within which querying the Internet is pursued as a mnemonic practice. Others include mass media, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and online encyclopaedias. 

 

Key words: 

 

digital memories, Google, memory politics, mnemonic practice, Russia, search engines, Yandex 

 

The article is available here.