The Repair Shop of Memory

Memory, Mind, and Media 2:e1 (2023)
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Abstract

In the BBC show, The Repair Shop, members of the public bring their cherished but crumbling possessions into a workshop populated by expert craftspeople, who carry out restorations. These objects arrive as treasured possessions, which, despite their dilapidated state, still hold memories and meaning for their owners, albeit memories that may have faded as the object itself has aged. Something magical seems to take place after the objects are restored, however. The restored objects seem to reanimate and revive the memories that their owners have invested in them. How is it possible that this restoration can bring memories held by the objects back to life? What is special about The Repair Shop restoring objects to their former glory? We outline two ways in which objects can be evocative and embody emotion, memory, and meaning. We then outline the ways in which the restoration of these objects to something like their original form can improve scaffolded recall and bring memories back to life. For one class of evocative objects, the restoration enhances recall by reinstating details from the context in which the memories were encoded. For the second class of evocative objects, their restoration affords an imaginative connection to the past, which enables them to become powerful focal points of memory and shared narratives. In effect, The Repair Shop seems to work not only as a repair shop of objects but as a repair shop of memory too.

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Christopher Jude McCarroll
National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University

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