A European Comparative Approach to Studying AV Representations of the Past

Hagedoorn, B., 2016.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

Television is a significant mediator of past and historical events in modern media systems. In this paper, I present results from my dissertation Doing History, Creating Memory: Representing the Past in Documentary and Archive-Based Television Programmes within a Multi-Platform Landscape (defended in January 2016), in which I have studied practices of representing the past on Dutch television as a multi-platform phenomenon. Dynamic screen practices such as broadcasting, cross-media platforms, digital thematic channels and online television archives provide access to a wide range of audio-visual materials. By exploring how television's convergence with new media technologies has affected its role as a mediator of the past, this study reflects on how contemporary representations of history contribute to the construction of cultural memory. Specifically, the poetics of doing history in archive-based and documentary programming are analysed from 2000 onwards, when television professionals in the Netherlands seized the opportunity to experiment with storytelling practices made possible by the increased digitisation of archival collections and the presence of online and digital platforms. This study is founded on a textual analysis of audio-visual cases to reveal processes of meaning making, and a production studies approach to gain insight into creators' strategies of broadcasting and multi-platform storytelling in relation to historical events. In this context, theoretical work from the areas of cultural studies, memory studies, narratology, media theory and (television) historiography has also been collected and critically interpreted, to address history and memory as processes of discursive struggle. Such an approach reveals distinct textual, cultural-historical and institutional aims, strategies and conventions for doing history on television, bringing power relations to the surface. In this paper, I will pay specific attention to the case of the long-running Dutch archive-based history programme Andere Tijden [Different Times, VPRO/NPS/NTR, 2000-present), in which the re-use of archival footage in relation to topical events, as well as a cross-media approach, play a prominent role in the audio-visual representation of events from the past by television programme makers. This study demonstrates, first, how the selection and circulation of historical narratives and audio-visual archive materials in new contexts of television works in relation to processes of mediation, hybridity and curation, and second, how such practices help to search, preserve and perform individual and collective cultural memories. Televised histories connect viewers/users with the past and provide necessary contextual frameworks through cross-media and transmedia storytelling, demonstrating the continuing importance of stories and memories produced through televisual practices – challenging accepted versions of history. Furthermore, this paper presents suggestions for follow-up research, based on a recent pilot study. In this follow-up study, I situate my interest in audio-visual representations of the past in a wider European and comparative context, to interrogate how past and historical events are represented through audio-visual materials in different political, economic, cultural and ideological national contexts in Europe. To do so, I have developed a comparative research model to study specific cases of audio-visual representations of the past in different countries in Europe, organized around a set of common questions, themes, and methodological reflections.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventThe 6th European Communication Conference (ECC), Prague, 2016. : Mediating (Dis)Continuities: Contesting Pasts, Presents and Futures - Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 9-Nov-201612-Nov-2016
Conference number: 6


ConferenceThe 6th European Communication Conference (ECC), Prague, 2016.
Abbreviated titleECREA
CountryCzech Republic
Internet address


The 6th European Communication Conference (ECC), Prague, 2016. : Mediating (Dis)Continuities: Contesting Pasts, Presents and Futures


Prague, Czech Republic

Event: Conference


  • aichival footage, arts and humanities, audio-visual materials online, digital heritage, history, media studies, cultural memory, multi-platform storytelling, representation of the past, visual culture, television in transition

ID: 37843533