Guest Lecture on Digital Memory

Figure 3.2 copy.jpg
Screen capture from the documentary game, The Cat and the Coup, in which you play the game as the cat of Iranian Prime Minister Mossadeq during the CIA coup against him in 1953

In January, 2017 I’ll be giving a guest lecture in the wonderful course, Somatechnics: Bodies and Power in a Digital Age, led by Dr. Domitilla Olivieri and Dr. Magda Gorska. My lecture will be based on a chapter of my book, The Internet and Formations of Iranian American-ness, which will also be coming out in 2017. The chapter focuses on how practices of collectively remembering the past involve various forms of media. Specifically, it raises questions about what digital mediation does to these practices of remembering. One of the striking examples that I discuss in the chapter is The Cat and the Coup.

This documentary game was released in 2011, and is set up such that the player is the cat of the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadeq. The story plays out during the summer of 1953, when the CIA-engineered coup against Mossadeq is in full swing. On the basis of an interview with the game’s developer, Kurosh Valinejad, and interfacing with the game via the online platform, I discuss this example among others that show how digital media formats become part of how a new generation of Iranians in the US are learning about, remembering, and critically engaging with various elements of the past. I make an argument about how the material qualities of the technologies that mediate the past, and the sensory experiences they invoke, are integral to the emerging styles of diasporic community formation that are appealing to the second generation of Iranian Americans in particular. 

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