Contemporary history of Europe Digital history & historiography

“Le goût d’un jour de fête”? Commemorating the End of the Second World War on Twitter During the Lockdown: A Comparison Between France and Italy

n this chapter, we look at the commemorations of the end of the Second World War in France (May 8 ) and Italy (April 25) in 2020 when both countries were under strict lockdown. We try to understand what the pandemic has done to the online echoes of these commemorations. After a first methodological part basing our work on digital memory studies and explaining the constitution of a double corpus in French and Italian, we recall that the status of the two commemorations is distinct, with April 25 being better anchored in the Italian commemorative traditions than May 8, a contested commemoration, in the French one. This section also looks at the more specific context of these two commemorations in 2020. Finally, we analyze our corpus of tweets through a distant reading method. In Italy, where specific initiatives are taken, the 2020 commemoration bears the traces of lockdown—the collected tweets discussing, for example, balconies songs. In France, where initiatives to commemorate online have been non-existent, tweets are less anchored in public spaces activities. Nevertheless, in both countries, our analyses show that the pandemic seems to push more toward consensus and minimize controversies. These few considerations remind us of the extent to which online commemorations are embedded in older traditions of commemoration. Original online practices may emerge, but they are rooted in pre-existing commemorative frameworks.

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