Occupy Wall Street Meets Occupy Iraq

Stefka Hristova

Abstract

The transformation of iconic images of traumatic historical events into everyday humorous practice illuminates the mechanisms of remembering and forgetting that operate in digital popular culture. The image-icon has the power to evoke history, to function in Walter Benjamin's terms as a monad. This power, however, is fleeting as history is yet again rendered latent and forgotten once it is transformed into a gesture or everyday common sense. In this article, Stefka Hristova offers a comparative analysis of two Internet-driven participatory memes — “Pepper Spray Cop” and “Doing a Lynndie” — to illuminate the role digital media plays in the remembering and forgetting of what W. J. T. Mitchell calls the “histor[ies] of perception” of the November 18, 2011, pepper spaying of peaceful protesters at the University of California, Davis, and of the 2004 abuse and torture of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison.

Radical History Review
Publication/Event Date: 
September, 2013