Media Times| Affective Historiography: Archival Aesthetics and the Temporalities of Televisual Nation-Building

Anu Koivunen


In his study of nationalism, Benedict Anderson famously identified a notion of simultaneity across “homogeneous, empty time” as the temporal structure underpinning nationness as “imagined community.” Since the 18th century, Anderson argued, time was spatialized as newspapers and novels were the prime cultural forms of imagining a community across space. In the era of televisual nation-building, another kind of temporality has emerged as a form for thinking about and feeling the nation. Archival aesthetics, it is argued, is a mode of affective historiography that mobilizes a double temporality: While constructing chronologies in its remixing of archive footage, reproducing conventional narratives of epochs and events, it also engenders, via reappropriations of popular music and cinema, a transhistorical, even mythical notion of the nation as a community of feeling across time. Through a discussion of Finnish TV documentaries by Peter von Bagh, this article returns to Homi K. Bhabha’s theorizing of the pedagogical and the performative as the two, intertwined modes of narrating the nation.


television, historical documentary, affect, nation-building, broadcasting, intimate public

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