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Journal ArticleDOI

Reflexivity or orientation? Collective memories in the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand national press

01 Aug 2020-Memory Studies (SAGE)-Vol. 13, Iss: 4, pp 519-536

Abstract: With regard to the notion of ‘national reflexivity’, an important part of Beck’s cosmopolitan outlook, this article examines how, and, in what ways, collective memories of empire were reflexively used in Australian, Canadian and New Zealand national newspaper coverage of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee and London Olympic Games. In contrast to Beck, it is argued that examples of national reflexivity were closely tied to the history of the nation-state, with collective memories of the former British Empire used to debate, critique and appraise ‘the nation’. These memories were discursively used to ‘orientate’ each nation’s postcolonial emergence, suggesting that examples of national reflexivity, within the press’ coverage, remained closely tied to the ‘historical fetishes’ enveloped in each nations’ imperial past(s). This implies that the ‘national outlook’ does not objectively overlook, uncritically absorb or reflexively acknowledge differences with ‘the other’, but instead, negotiates a historically grounded and selective appraisal of the past that reveals a contingent and, at times, ambivalent, interplay with ‘the global’.
Topics: Collective memory (54%), Reflexivity (53%), Empire (53%), Nationalism (51%), Cosmopolitanism (51%)

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Reflexivity or orientation? Collective memories in the
Australian, Canadian and New Zealand national press
BLACK, Jack <http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1595-5083>
Available from Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive (SHURA) at:
http://shura.shu.ac.uk/15672/
This document is the author deposited version. You are advised to consult the
publisher's version if you wish to cite from it.
Published version
BLACK, Jack (2020). Reflexivity or orientation? Collective memories in the
Australian, Canadian and New Zealand national press. Memory Studies.
Copyright and re-use policy
See http://shura.shu.ac.uk/information.html
Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive
http://shura.shu.ac.uk

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This is an author’s accepted manuscript for ‘Memory Studies’, online first, copyright
SAGE.
Reflexivity or Orientation? Collective memories in the Australian, Canadian and
New Zealand national press
Dr. Jack Black, Academy of Sport and Physical Activity, Faculty of Health and
Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University, Collegiate Hall, Collegiate Crescent, Sheffield,
S10 2BP

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Reflexivity or Orientation? Collective memories in the Australian, Canadian and
New Zealand national press
Jack Black, PhD
Academy of Sport and Physical Activity, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
Abstract
With regard to the notion of ‘national reflexivity’, an important part of Beck’s
cosmopolitan outlook, this article examines how, and, in what ways, collective
memories of empire were reflexively used in Australian, Canadian and New Zealand
national newspaper coverage of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee and London Olympic
Games. In contrast to Beck, it is argued that examples of national reflexivity were
closely tied to the history of the nation-state, with collective memories of the former
British Empire used to debate, critique and appraise ‘the nation’. These memories were
discursively used to ‘orientate’ each nation’s postcolonial emergence, suggesting that
examples of national reflexivity, within the press’ coverage, remained closely tied to the
‘historical fetishes’ enveloped in each nations’ imperial past(s). This implies that the
‘national outlook’ does not objectively overlook, uncritically absorb or reflexively
acknowledge differences with ‘the other’, but instead, negotiates a historically grounded

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and selective appraisal of the past that reveals a contingent and, at times, ambivalent,
interplay with ‘the global’.
Introduction
This article examines how the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand national press
reported on the 2012 Diamond Jubilee and London Olympic Games. As noted by Skey
(2013), ‘the media are crucial in allowing people to access and engage with “otherness”
across different contexts in the process providing “spaces” for new forms of imagination
and, perhaps, solidarity to emerge’ (2013: 237). This is especially apparent during
transnational and international events, such as, the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympic
Games (Black, 2015). In fact, while ‘national’ events provide an important role in
sustaining national identifiers, they can also carry great risk, as often there are multiple
national histories to be told and numerous versions of the nation to be portrayed (Barnes
and Aughey, 2006). When considered in relation to the 2012 Diamond Jubilee and
London Olympic Games, it is apparent that for the former dominions of Australia, Canada
and New Zealand, representations of the ‘past’ required delineating between a past
indebted to the British Empire and a present that maintained, albeit in a far different
arrangement, Commonwealth relations, sporting rivalries and political, economic and
social interactions (Belich, 2001; McIntyre, 2004; Malcolm, 2012).
1

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Consequently, in this article, attention will be afforded to examining how
collective memories of empire were used by the commonwealth press as a form of
national ‘orientation’.
2
That is, with regard to Beck’s (2002; 2005) work on
‘cosmopolitanism’ as well as literature on ‘collective memory’ (Phillips and Reyes, 2011;
Ryan, 2014; Zerubavel, 1985), the notion of ‘national reflexivity’ will be critically
considered in order to explore how collective memories of empire were reflexively used
within Commonwealth press coverage. In accordance with work that has highlighted how
collective memories serve to demarcate ‘the nation’ amidst wider global processes (Bell,
2003; 2006; Levy and Sznader, 2002), how one makes sense of this demarcation for
national groups whose history is closely entwined with the history of former imperial
empires – can help to elucidate upon the transmission, negotiation and reconstruction of
collective memories (Bell, 2003).
Cosmopolitanism
Studies of globalisation have frequently considered the ways in which global interactions
go beyond the confines of the national context to include transnational processes of
collaboration. Notably, Beck’s (1992; 2002; 2005; 2006; Beck et al., 2003) work
demonstrates an intermediate position in global and national debates. For Beck (1992),
modernity is marked by processes of reflexivity through which the nation is made aware

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Abstract: expressionism in painting, existentialism in philosophy, the final forms of representation in the novel, the films of the great auteurs, or the modernist school of poetry (as institutionalized and canonized in the works of Wallace Stevens): all these are now seen as the final, extraordinary flowering of a high modernist impulse which is spent and exhausted with Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of

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"Reflexivity or orientation? Collect..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...Here, narratives of the past, in this instance, narratives of empire, were not endlessly borrowed and reproduced (Jameson, 1991); rather, they were selectively used to help frame the press’ coverage of both events....

    [...]


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Richard Shusterman1Institutions (1)

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  • ...…maintained as important moments in the history of each nation (Berg, 2012; Foster-Bell, 2012; Hape, 2012; Rothwell, 2012; The Globe and Mail, 2012; Vancouver Sun, 2012), this history could also serve as a benchmark from which future global relations could be compared to (Hyder, 2012; Rudman, 2012)....

    [...]

  • ...Unhindered by their imperial past, Hyder (2012) reflected on Canada’s recent successes by noting that If Britain has become modest by coming to terms with the fact that its days as a global empire are behind it, Canada has increasingly built on its recent successes to become emboldened by the…...

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Abstract: At the beginning of the 21st century the conditio humana cannot be understood nationally or locally but only globally. This constitutes a revolution in the social sciences. The `sociological imagin...

1,105 citations


"Reflexivity or orientation? Collect..." refers background in this paper

  • ...When critically considered, Levy and Sznaider’s (2002) ‘cosmopolitan memory’ stands in contrast to previous accounts of cosmopolitanism (Beck, 2006), in that, rather than being ignored or discounted, ‘the nation’ remains an important part of how groups ‘remember’. Pei (2009) explains that...

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  • ...Notably, Beck’s (1992, 2002, 2005, 2006; Beck et al., 2003) work demonstrates an intermediate position in global and national debates. For Beck (1992), modernity is marked by processes of reflexivity through which the nation is made aware of global cultural and capital flows that distinguish it from earlier industrial forms.3 Here, Beck (2005) directs attention to how processes of internal globalisation characterise national spaces, undermining the nation both as a conceptual and analytical tool. This, Bewes (1997) argues, forms part of Beck’s (1992; Beck et al....

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  • ...For Beck (1992), modernity is marked by processes of reflexivity through which the nation is made aware of global cultural and capital flows that distinguish it from earlier industrial forms.3 Here, Beck (2005) directs attention to how processes of internal globalisation characterise national…...

    [...]

  • ...Notably, Beck’s (1992, 2002, 2005, 2006; Beck et al., 2003) work demonstrates an intermediate position in global and national debates. For Beck (1992), modernity is marked by processes of reflexivity through which the nation is made aware of global cultural and capital flows that distinguish it from earlier industrial forms.3 Here, Beck (2005) directs attention to how processes of internal globalisation characterise national spaces, undermining the nation both as a conceptual and analytical tool....

    [...]

  • ...Notably, Beck’s (1992, 2002, 2005, 2006; Beck et al., 2003) work demonstrates an intermediate position in global and national debates. For Beck (1992), modernity is marked by processes of reflexivity through which the nation is made aware of global cultural and capital flows that distinguish it from earlier industrial forms.3 Here, Beck (2005) directs attention to how processes of internal globalisation characterise national spaces, undermining the nation both as a conceptual and analytical tool. This, Bewes (1997) argues, forms part of Beck’s (1992; Beck et al., 2003) ‘reflexive modernization’, a perspective that is extended in his work on cosmopolitanism, which explores how national cultures have become more ‘open’ to global diversity (Beck, 2006). Indeed, this cosmopolitan outlook prescribes a ‘Global sense’, that is, ‘a sense of boundarylessness. An everyday, historically alert, reflexive awareness of ambivalences in a milieu of blurring differentiations and cultural contradictions ... shaping one’s life under conditions of cultural mixture’ (Beck, 2006: 3). A similar perspective is presented by Sreberny-Mohammadi (1991) when she asserts that ‘the post-modern “bricolage” of assorted cultural icons from different locations and time periods ... circulate inside the non-industrialized world, yet invites no simple reading of the effects of these encounters’ (p. 133). There is, in both Beck (2006) and Sreberny-Mohammadi’s (1991) remarks, a tendency to direct attention towards the impossibility of accounting for the ‘effects’ of ‘post-modern’ cultural ambivalences; an approach that circumvents the opportunity to explore how such assemblages, differentiations and contradictions are historically and ideologically defined. Certainly, such processes are not fixed to the ‘non-industrialized world’ and although the signification attributed to ‘cultural icons’ and memories of the past can change (Sreberny-Mohammadi, 1991), this may not happen in the fluid or ad hoc manner that is suggested by postmodern accounts (Urry, 2002). Neither is it implemented in light of Beck’s (2006; Beck et al., 2003) present-centred doctrine, whereby examples of discord are simply subsumed under an inevitable rhetoric of global consensus (Bewes, 1997). In fact, Skey (2013) argues that the cosmopolitan concept may risk becoming ‘a conceptual dumping ground for an extremely wide variety of activities and features, not to mention collapsing the complex range of “others” that people engage with’ (p....

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"Reflexivity or orientation? Collect..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Following Skey’s (2013) critique, it is apparent that ‘the analytical dimensions of the concept [cosmopolitanism] remain much too broad, premised on the idea of “openness” and a willingness to engage with “others”’ (p. 249; see also Ryan, 2014)....

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  • ...…That is, with regard to Beck’s (2002, 2005) work on ‘cosmopolitanism’ as well as literature on ‘collective memory’ (Phillips and Reyes, 2011; Ryan, 2014; Zerubavel, 1985), the notion of ‘national reflexivity’ will be critically considered in order to explore how collective memories of empire…...

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  • ...Indeed, Ryan (2014) highlights that Cosmopolitan memory as a concept, although excellently delineated, is fraught with the dangers of potential conceptual reductionism, for a lack of precision in defining the exact nature of its relationship with national memory cultures may culminate in its theoretical deployment as an all-encompassing term, which signifies that national memory cultures adopt universal ethical criteria, without an attendant scrutiny of the intricacies of their relationship....

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  • ...As a malleable and discursively applicable trope, collective memories of ‘empire’ were temporally organised and used in national newspaper discourses as a form of ‘national orientation’ (Zerubavel, 1985)....

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  • ...(p. 511) Such scrutiny of the ways in which national cultures engage with global processes has underscored work that has examined the application of the cosmopolitan perspective (Kennedy, 2013; Ryan, 2014; Skey, 2013, 2014; Weenink, 2008)....

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