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Allen Meek is the author of Trauma and Media: Theories, Histories and Images (Routledge 2010) which explained how the concept of trauma has been used to understand modern media in the writings of theorists such as Freud, Benjamin, Adorno, Barthes, Derrida and Zizek. He teaches a 300 level paper called Trauma and Media which explores the role of media images in shaping our understanding of war, genocide, atrocity, terrorism and other catastrophes. He is currently researching how natural history and biology have shaped modern conceptions of cultural memory, particularly the transmission of the past by media.
I am researching the role of biological conceptions of society in cultural criticism, particularly with reference to catastrophes such as the Holocaust and the bombing of Hiroshima. I am specifically interested in the ways that theories of hereditary transmission and degeneration influenced discourses about the collective memory of catastrophe. How does the contemporary preoccupation with trauma in cultural criticism both respond to and reiterate earlier debates about race and human evolution? Both Freud and the Nazis were influenced by Darwin. I argue that cultural memory needs to be understood in the context of biopolitical forms of social identity and exclusionary violence.
Project Title: Transmission: Media, catastrophe and cultural memory
Date Range: 2012 - 2012
Funding Body: Massey University