Sociology Gold: The sociology research of Goldsmiths, University of London

Remembering Diana: Cultural Memory and the Reinvention of Authority (2013)

Vic Seidler

Do you remember hearing when Princess Diana died? Memories allow us to recognize how the past echoes in the present, highlighting a tension between the media's attempts to shape cultural memories and produce narratives, and the embodied memories people carry which sense a different reality. As people gathered on the streets, the media discovered the customary discourses of royal funerals did not work and microphones were handed over to the people to voice their own experience. Recognising themselves in the vulnerability Diana had shown, people who were usually excluded took charge of urban spaces and transformed them into spaces of grief. As a new multicultural and intimate citizenship took shape, people felt empowered to challenge traditional authorities and reinvent new ones, where emotions and feelings were valued as sources of knowledge and treasured cultural memories. Shaping new forms of social and cultural theory which acknowledge the embodying of cultural memories and the legitimacy of emotions and feelings, we can learn to recognize new imaginations through new technologies and modes of communication. Challenging the injustices and inequalities of globalised new capitalisms, Remembering Diana recovers alternative values in the echoes of those days, and ways of being that shape postmodern ecologies.

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