Logo Utrecht University

Utrecht Centre for Screen Cultures in Transition


11 January 2016
15:30 - 17:30
JKH 13, 0.06

Mock defense PhD Berber Hagedoorn: Doing History, Creating Memory

Doing History, Creating Memory: Representing the Past in Documentary and Archive-Based Television Programmes within a Multi-Platform Landscape

Television is a significant mediator of past and historical events in modern media systems. This dissertation studies 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. 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. 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.


Berber Hagedoorn is specialised in Media and Cultural Studies. After writing her dissertation Doing History, Creating Memory: Representing the Past in Documentary and Archive-Based Television Programmes within a Multi-Platform Landscape at Utrecht University, she now works as an Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen Research Centre for Media Studies and Journalism. She researches the representation of past events, multi-platform storytelling, cultural memory and the re-use of archival footage, particularly in relation to television, film and digital media. Her dissertation project was carried out in the context of EUscreenXL, which promotes the use of television content to explore Europe’s rich and diverse cultural history (www.euscreen.eu). Previously, Hagedoorn worked as a researcher for the European projects Video Active and EUscreen, which presented a vast collection of television programmes and stills from audio-visual archives across Europe. She pursued her academic education in Language and Culture Studies (BA) and Media Studies (Research MA/MPhil) at Utrecht University and was a visiting graduate student in Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Hagedoorn is a member of the European Television History Network, Vereniging Geschiedenis, Beeld en Geluid (Association of History, Image and Sound) and Utrecht University’s Centre for Television in Transition.