Journal Article

A Quest for Communitas: Rethinking Mediated Collective Memory Existentially



Despite the fragmentation of audience behaviour and the pluralization of platforms within the media cultures of the digital age, cultural memory practices retain an important feature: They echo a basic existential quest for communitas. The present article compares two seemingly incomparable regimes of memory of our time: the anniversaries of 9.11 on Swedish television and web communities of commemoration of lost loved ones. It suggests through these contrasting examples that existential themes are pursued in the face of three challenges: the temporality of instantaneity, the all-pervasive networked individualism that makes memory into a matter of elective affinities, and the technological capacities that subject memory to endless revision. The article explores the existential dimension of these memory practices in line with research within the culturalist emphasis on the study of media and religion. This debate recognizes the need for a broader understanding of the mediated qualities of religion and the religious qualities of the media. The article argues that both televisual anniversaries of trauma that invite audiences to an annual return, and our new multiple and fragmented media memories compel us to conceive of our hyper-contingent, late-modern digital age as a quest for meaning, transcendence and cohesion--for what Victor Turner (1969) called existential communitas.

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  • Type:
    Journal Article (peer reviewed)
  • Journal:
    Nordicom Review, Vol 35, Issue 2.
  • Published:
  • Language:

About the Author

Amanda Lagerkvist

Amanda Lagerkvist is an Associate Professor of Media and Communication Studies and Wallenberg Academy Fellow in the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. . With a PhD from Stockholm University in 2005, she had a two-year postdoc the... Read more


Lagerkvist, A. (2014). A Quest for Communitas: Rethinking Mediated Collective Memory Existentially. Nordicom Review, 35(2).