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216 × 138 × 16 mm
192 pages
15 illustrations
01 Jul 2013
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Memory Encounters with the Strange and the Familiar John Scanlan

We know that as we get older, we may slowly lose more and more of our memory, and that this can impair our sense of where we belong and how we connect to others. We might relax a little if we consider the improvements in computer data storage, which may lead us to a future in which the limits of our memories become less constricting. In this book, John Scanlan explores the nature of memory and how we have come to live both with and within it, as well as what it might mean for memory to become a process as simple as retrieving and reading data.

Probing the ways various philospohers have looked at memory, John Scanlan revals that some argue being human means having the ability to remember, in order to see oneself as a being in time, with a past and future. At the same time, he shows that our memories can undo our present sense of time and place by confronting us with our past lives. And in this digital age we are immersed in a vast archive of data that not only colours our every day experiences but also suppies us with information on anything we might otherwise have forgotten, breaking down the distinction between the memories of the individual and the collective. Drawing on history, philosophy and technology, Memory: Encounters with the Strange and the Familiar offers an engaging investigation of how the phenomenon of memory continually remakes everyday life. 

‘Scanlan argues that the digital revolution and . . . the surfeit of available past experience [it produces] threatens to overwhelm the present. The distinction between past and present, between memory and forgetting becomes blurred and undermines any possible sense of tangible reality. We no longer live lives tightly tethered to a particular time and place, but skim along the surfeit of experience, dipping in where and when we please. Scanlan is ambivalent about this new way of living. He sees the potential for playful engagement with the world, but worries about a deepening culture of forgetfulness. Memory: Encounters with the Strange and the Familiar is a useful entry point into the growing scholarship on history and collective memory. For historians of medicine, such work poses a challenge to connect historical accounts of the reductive focus on individual memory as recall in the neurosciences to these broader sociocultural meanings of memory’ — Bulletin of the History of Medicine

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John Scanlan is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University.He has previously worked at the Universities of Glasgow, St Andrews and Bristol. He is the author of On Garbage (Reaktion, 2004), Van Halen: Exhuberant California, Zen Rock & Roll(Reaktion, 2012), Memory: Encounters with the Strange and the Familiar (Reaktion, 2013), Easy Riders, Rolling Stones: On the Road in America, from Delta Blues to 70s Rock (2015),

I Pasts
II Presences
III Ecologies

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