9/11 Digitally Remastered: Internet Archives, Vernacular Memories and Wherewereyou.org

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13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article explores competing efforts to make sense of the 9/11 attacks within entries posted on the “Where Were You … September 11th, Two Thousand One” Internet archive. Open to written contributions for one year from 15 September 2001, the archive amassed more than 2,500 responses, with posters writing from over twenty different countries. The article begins by arguing that this repository of vernacular memories has potential to significantly broaden our understanding of how the events of 9/11 were interpreted beyond the dominant discourses of political and other elites. It then attempts to do this via a discursive analysis of three key themes traversing contributions to WhereWereYou. These relate, first, to efforts to position 9/11 within particular temporal horizons; second, to accounts of 9/11's essence and causes; and third, to articulated hopes, fears, and expectations around the attacks' future impacts. The article concludes by locating WhereWereYou within debates over the archive's status in contemporary social and political life. It argues that this specific archive's refusal to foreclose 9/11's meaning renders WhereWereYou a particularly interesting memory project for exploring the events of 11 September 2001, and for thinking through contemporary mnemonic practices more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-814
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of American Studies
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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