Painful memories as mnemonic resources: Grand Canyon Dories and the protection of place




Crawford, Brett
Coraiola, Diego M.
Dacin, M. Tina

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Strategic Organization


Organizations commonly regard memories of pain and destruction as being unwanted. In this paper, we consider the largely undertheorized potential that painful pasts can have for building a mnemonic community. We draw primarily on oral history interviews to explore how Martin Litton and Grand Canyon Dories use sensory, discursive, and material-discursive modalities to convert painful memories into mnemonic resources through the performance of three practices: sensitizing, retelling, and reincarnating. Their aim was to protect the Grand Canyon for future generations. We advance research on organizational uses of the past by theorizing how painful memories can be converted into mnemonic resources. Specifically, we underscore the untapped potential of organizations repackaging history-at-large to curate experiences of the past using combinations of semiotic modalities and remembering practices. We call this multimodal remembering. We also contribute to research on place by illustrating how destroyed natural wonders that no longer exist in their geological corporeal form can be transposed across time and space and become reembodied in new phantasmatic forms.



memories, multimodal remembering, custodianship, environment, organizational studies, mnemonic resources


Crawford, B., Coraiola, D. & Dacin, M.T. (2020). Painful memories as mnemonic resources: Grand Canyon Dories and the protection of place, Strategic Organization, 20(1), 51-79.