In the context of our research interests towards historical video games and memory studies, it was our pleasure to welcome Emil Lundedal Hammar for a guest lecture. The presentation was followed by a round table and discussion on the topic.

When: Thursday, June 14th 2018, 17h-19h

Where: Room M 103, Institute of East Asian Studies, Schillerstraße 6


Mnemonic hegemony in historical digital games

Whether it is popular literature, museums, TV shows, or even Hollywood cinema, we rely on culture to remember the past. As a memory-making cultural form, historical digital games likewise allow people to form understandings the past. Yet despite the imaginary possibilities of this digital technology that enables people to play with the past, we see the same white Eurocentric visions of the past reproduced repeatedly by the North American and European games industry. The problem with mass media such as digital games is therefore that ‘old games keep being made’, i.e. that mnemonic hegemony constantly reasserts itself via historical digital games. To answer this question, this presentation determines to what extent political economy affects the memory-making potentials of historical digital games and how capitalism, race, and postcolonialism intersect to establish and assert a mnemonic hegemony.

Based on the results of qualitative interviews with historical game developers, the presentation tests the hypothesis about whether or not, cultural hegemony and material conditions of games production implicitly maintain and reproduce hegemonic visions of the past. While individuals do not necessarily consciously intend to reproduce received systems of power and hegemony, the collected data draws out how certain cultural and material relations tacitly motivate workers in the digital game industries to reproduce mnemonic hegemony across racial, gendered, national lines. Finally, the presentation develops the argument that the political economy of cultural production networks such as the games industry constitute important factors that need to be taken seriously in research on cultural memory and game studies in order to determine cultural memory-making potentials. Thus, the presentation uncovers one aspect of my research project on the intersection between digital games, cultural memory, and hegemony with particular attention to race & postcolonialism.


Emil Lundedal Hammar is a PhD candidate in Game and Memory Studies at the Department of Culture & Language at UiT Tromsø, Norway under the supervision of Dr. Holger Pötszch. He holds a Cand. IT. in games analysis from the IT University of Copenhagen and a Ba. in philosophy from the University of Copenhagen. In 2016 he won first prize with the personal essay on the relation between being a citizen of a former slave nation of Denmark and playing contemporary digital games dealing with the 18th century Caribbean slave system in the national essay contest ‘Digital Lives’ organized by the organization Fritt Ord. He currently coordinates the international ENCODE research network at UiT Tromsø and is part of the WARGAME research group. Together with Dr. Souvik Mukherjee, Emil also co-edits a special issue on postcolonial perspectives in Game Studies for the Open Library of Humanities. His research interests include game studies, memory studies, critical race theory, the political economy of communication, critical & materialist approaches to media, and postcolonialism.