Communicative Practices of Transnational Memory in Online Forums

conducted by: Anastasia Glawion


Which role does nation play in the negotiation of memory on the Internet? Can we observe a transnationalisation of memory or do national discourses continue online using more modern channels of communication? The project „Transnational Memory Practices“ combines sociological online research methods and approaches from memory and reception studies with the debate about the position of new media in society.
The channels of information exchange currently undergo dramatic changes. The academic discourse about communication on the internet results in two different interpretations of online group dynamics. The first one constructs the Internet as the central medium of the globalization epoch that sets pluralistic mechanisms in motion. It presents a platform where actors with different opinions are able to confront each other, challenging social and geographic distance. Some researchers even speak of synchronization of positions as an outcome from these confrontations.
The second interpretation stresses the fact that actors with similar positions tend to find one another more easily and construct closed empowering communicative spaces online, in which one thinking pattern is clearly dominating others. This was not possible in real-time before new media due to i.a. geographical distance. In case these groups are based on a certain interpretation of historical events, one speaks of „homogeneous memory communities“, which often acquire nationalistic features.
The difference in these two interpretations reveals that the internet is providing the necessary condition for the emergence of transnational memory, without being clear yet how these possibilities are being made use of. Contrary to the frequent criticism aimed at the fact that memory studies are mostly applied on narratives of nation-states, the current research project tries to assess the potential role of the internet in the transnationalisation of memory discourses about World War II researching the dynamics of national identity on historical communicative platforms.
Currently research is being conducted on one of the most visited english speaking forums dedicated to World War II: the Axis History Forum ( With the help of the web scraping package rvest (R Studio) the texts are being extracted together with relational data and analyzed using the network analysis tool visone. The analysis is aimed at determining what exactly is discussed within dense subgroups on the forum.