The past next door: Neighbourly relations with digital memory-artefacts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


How does digitization reshape people's engagement with their past? As ever more moments and interactions are objectified as digital data (photos, e-mail, instant messaging protocols) stored in digital archives that are constantly available and used intensively as memory aids, people's engagement with their past is increasingly mediated by databases and algorithms. The article explores how the non-narrative, paradigmatic structure of the database then remoulds memory. More specifically, it is suggested that once encounters of people with representations of the past from their personal archives are mediated by search and sorting algorithms, memories lose their status as docile objects. When memory objects can appear in unexpected places and times, their agency qua memory actants can no longer be blackboxed. Rather than relations of possession, people then have neighbourly relations with the memory objects that populate their digital environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-21
Number of pages15
JournalMemory Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Actor-network theory
  • algorithms
  • digital photography
  • digital search
  • memory


Dive into the research topics of 'The past next door: Neighbourly relations with digital memory-artefacts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this