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Title: Feminist assemblages in the UK: media, memory and archives
Author: Chidgey, Red
Awarding Body: London South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines how feminist memories are publicly created, mobilised and secured within a UK context. By addressing gaps in the existing literature with regard to the production of feminist memory in digital times, this thesis draws on assemblage paradigms to propose a theoretical and methodological framework that is sufficiently nuanced to attend to the production, use and contestation of feminist memories in new networked media conditions. As part of its unique theoretical framework, this thesis proposes four inter-meshing dynamics of feminist memory. Re-mediation considers how feminist memories move across different media forms. Re-embodiment examines how feminist pasts are performed through embodied actions. Re-attachment highlights how present day circumstances are discursively and affectively constructed through recourse to historical events. And re-apprehension foregrounds how identity claims and modes of belonging accompany appeals to collective memory. Combined, these dynamics provide a wide-ranging framework for understanding the production, mobilisation and securitisation of feminist cultural memories across a range of sites: governmental, activist and commercial. A multi-modal, qualitative case study approach was deployed in this study to analyse two prominent feminist memory assemblages currently unfolding: intensified appeals to the British women’s suffrage movement as an authorised protest past, and the ubiquitous presence of adapted World War Two Rosie the Riveter iconographies as a suitable symbol for contemporary feminisms today. Digital methods such as database searches, research blogging and digital curation sites were used to map how these feminist assemblages are mobilised across diverse sites, and targeted, semi-structured interviews with writers, heritage professionals, academics, activists and artists tracked the uses and meanings attached to these dominant memory figures. A discourse analytical approach presents the workings of these memory assemblages as specific, invested forms of political and cultural work in the present. This study contributes to contemporary debates around the transmission and use of radical imaginaries by providing an empirical examination of how feminist memories come to travel affirmatively within a post-feminist context. Issues such as copyright practices, re-enactment, competitive memory claims and nostalgic whiteness were brought to the fore in this study’s findings, as well as the location of dominant feminist memory assemblages within current anti-austerity protest cultures. The memory assemblage framework proposed in this thesis offers the researcher a critical and creative toolkit: capable of traversing entrenched communicative binaries of body/machine, analogue/digital, grassroots/governmental and alternative/mainstream in the study of cultural memory, and flexible enough for understanding diverse entanglements of nationing, activist and commercial stories in the transmission and activation of political memories as usable pasts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available