Our memories of “big events” are generally collective in character. Their status as such manifests in a number of ways, but an important one is that their cognitive traces and triggers become intertwined with representations — images, narratives, and so forth — found in local and mass culture.
This applies to macro-collective events, such as election nights, massacres, assassinations, terrorist attacks, and sporting championships. It also operates in the context of localized happenings. Our recall of them — of, for example, the birth of children, the death of loved ones, and marriage proposals — owe a great deal to both the testimonies of others involved and to the accounts of similar events circulating in mass culture.
Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.