Making a Killing: On Race, Ritual, and (Re)Membering in Digital Culture

Sutherland, Tonia
Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture

This paper investigates cultural, social, and technological issues created by the increasingly widespread circulation of digital records documenting the deaths of black Americans in the United States. This research takes as its foundation questions about ritual, embodiment, memorialization, and oblivion in digital spaces. Further, it examines the interplay between the permanence of the digital sphere and the international human rights concept of the “right to be forgotten,” paying particular attention to black and brown bodies as records and as evidence. Methodologically, the work engages critical race theory, performance studies, archival studies, and digital culture studies, asking how existing technologies reflect the wider social world offline, how they create new cultural interactions, and how those new interactions reshape the real (non-virtual) world.