Project: Memory, Discourse and Interaction: Remembering in Context and History

Memory, Discourse and Interaction: Remembering in Context and History (PhD project, 2007-2010)

Macquarie University, Sydney
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona

Teun van Dijk (UPF, Barcelona)
Annabelle Lukin (Macquarie, Sydney)
John Sutton (Macquarie, Sydney)

This project proposed an integrated social and cognitive approach to discourse processes of autobiographical and collective remembering. This new perspective integrated discursive, cognitive and social approaches in order to examine how acts of situated remembering unfold in everyday life settings. In this project, processes of cognitive and discursive remembering were viewed as actions aimed at the accomplishment of interactional goals that go far beyond the retrieval and communication of memories. That is, the reconstruction and communication of autobiographical and collective memories were considered as interactive, embodied and socio-cognitive acts which are not determined by mere transmission of narratives of the past, but also by context-sensitive and goal-oriented reconstructions of those experiences in the present. Previous studies on autobiographical and collective remembering have paid little attention to the key role that context plays in guiding such processes.  One of the purposes of this project was to fill this conceptual gap in memory studies.
In this project, I examined cognitive and discourse processes of remembering related to periods of political violence in Argentina, in general, and to the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, in particular. Previous investigations on memories about periods of political violence in Argentina have not dealt with the cognitive nature of these socially situated acts of memory-making. The empirical studies presented in this project examined acts of discursive remembering occurring in public and private settings, and seek to explore the intersection of public and private discourses about Argentina’s traumatic past. I demonstrated that autobiographical and collective memories about the Argentinean troubling past is an excellent topic for exploring the interpenetration of the social, cultural, historical, and cognitive mechanisms involved in acts of socially-situated remembering.

This project aimed at providing evidence of processes of remembering at two interrelated levels of research in memory studies. First, the goal of this project was to introduce a new interdisciplinary theory on memory research in naturalistic settings, the aim of which was to provide a better and integrative account of the cognitive and discourse processes of autobiographical remembering in real-world activities. In order to achieve these theoretical goals, this investigation was guided by the following research questions: i) How are cognitive and discourse processes of autobiographical, joint and collective remembering modeled by the continued interlocking of mental models in the course of ongoing communicative interactions in real-world activities?; ii) What are the differences between  reconstructing and updating situation models of past experiences when these experiences are shared and when they are not; and iii) How are memories of historical events synchronized and negotiated by means of cognitive and discourse strategies in groups of intimates and people who do not know each other but are in the same age group?
Second, this project also aimed at shedding light on the current practices of commemoration and remembrance related to the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in public and private settings in Argentina. Hence, this project had  goals specifically related to the Argentinean case, and thus  it answers the following questions: i) What are the changes in the political speeches of memory given  by the Néstor Kirchner’s government in Argentina?; ii) Can we observe autobiographical and collective memories in private settings that remain independent of  the changes in cultural models that have been introduced by the Néstor Kirchner’s administration since 2003?; iii) What is the interactional goal of communicating memories about the military dictatorship?; and iv) What generational differences can be observed in the manner in which actors (including the speaker), actions and events of the 1976-1983 Military Dictatorship are discursively represented?


Bietti, L.M. (2014) Discursive Remembering: Individual and Collective Remembering as a Discursive, Cognitive and Historical ProcessBerlin/New York: De Gruyter. 

Medina Audelo, R. & Bietti, L.M. (2013). Autobiographical remembering and storytelling in context and history. Storytelling, Self, Society 9 (1) [expected June 2013]
Bietti L.M. & Medina Audelo, R. (2012)How history shapes memories in autobiographical narratives. Social and Education History 1 (3), 222-247. 
Bietti, L. (2012). Joint remembering: cognition, communication and interaction in processes of memory-making. Memory Studies  5 (2), 182-205. 
Bietti, L. (2011). Memorias compartidas, conversacion de familia e interaccion [translation by Amanda Vallejo Morales]. Discurso & Sociedad 5 (4), 749-794.
Bietti, Lucas (2011). The commemoration of March 24th, 1976: understanding the exceptionality of the present political discourse about the 'Dirty War' in Argentina. Journal of Language and Politics 10 (3), 347-371. 
Bietti, Lucas (2011). 'Piercing memories': Empty spaces in the histories of Argentinean families. Memory Studies 4 (1), 83-87.
Bietti, Lucas (2010). The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory: being an 'ordinary man' within the experience of dictatorship in Argentina. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J. Travers Simon & A; Gennaro (eds.)Yearbook of Idiographic Science 3, pp. 253-276. Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Group.
Bietti, Lucas (2010). Sharing memories, family conversation and interaction.Discourse & Society 21 (5), 499-523.
Bietti, Lucas (2010) Autobiographical memory, narrative and history: the construction of the self within the experience of dictatorship in Argentina.Proceedings of the XVI Oral History Conference. Between Past and Future: Oral History, Memory and Meaning. Prague, Czech Republic: International Oral History Association. [CD-ROM]
Bietti, Lucas (2009). Entre la cognición política y la cognición social: el discurso de la memoria colectiva en Argentina. Discurso & Sociedad (3) 1, 44-89. 
Bietti, Lucas (2008). Memoria, violencia y causalidad en la teoría de los dos demonios. El Norte - Finnish Journal of Latin American Studies (3), 1-34.