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The meanings of monuments and memorials toward a semiotic
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F Bellentani M Panico 29, 297 Political elites use monuments to represent their dominant worldviews in space Consequently. monuments represent selective historical narratives focusing only on events and identities that are. comfortable for political elites, This is particularly evident in the post socialist city Tamm 2013 During transition political elites. in post socialist countries established new monuments to celebrate the kinds of ideals they wanted. citizens to strive toward Often this process was simultaneously supported by the reconstruction. relocation and removal of monuments erected during Communism Kattago 2015 180 These in. terventions on Communist built environment are still going on in some post socialist countries for. example in April 2015 the Ukrainian government approved laws to enable the removal of Commu. nist monuments, However these interventions on Communist monumental remains were far from being widely. accepted and often resulted in heated political discussion social tension and conflict2 The contro. versies around the meanings of monuments in post socialist cities first show that monuments are not. neutral urban decorations but rather important sources of cultural identity and memory Moreover. these controversies demonstrate that political elites cannot fully control how individuals and social. communities interpret monuments Once erected monuments can be used reworked and reinter. pret in ways that are different from or indeed contradictory to the intentions of those who had them. installed Hay et al 2004 204, The study of monuments has so far remained rather marginal within the humanities and social. sciences One reason for this may have been that a multitude of disciplines have studied monuments. from different points of view As a consequence the term monuments has become vaguely defined. ranging from purely aesthetic built forms to powerful tools to reproduce authority and control Urban. and art history have explored monuments as aesthetic objects focusing on their immanent histori. cal and artistic values Human and cultural geography has analyzed monuments as political tools to. legitimize the power of political elites While urban and art history has largely underestimated the. political dimension of monuments human and cultural geographers have rarely explored how the. material and symbolic aspects relate to the political dimension of monuments. In this paper we propose a holistic approach to describe how these various aspects overlap and. reinforce each other in the meaning making of monuments The semiotic approach to monuments. can provide adequate tools to investigate the material the symbolic and the political dimensions. of monuments as interdependent In doing so semiotics can revise the rigid distinctions that have. characterized previous research on monuments such as material symbolic visual political art power. designer user Semiotic analysis accounts for the dialogicity of meanings circulating around monu. ments and specifically for the interplay between designers and users interpretations Lindstr m et. al 2014 126 Finally semiotics can be useful to explore how different individuals and social commu. nities differently interpret monuments, In section 2 we review the main theoretical and analytical approaches to the meaning making of.
monuments In section 3 following proposals in semiotics of text we propose a model that considers. designers and users as equally contributing to the meaning making of monuments In section 4 we. distinguish meanings in four autonomous but related functions the cognitive the axiological the. emotional and the pragmatic In section 5 we describe two autonomous but related dimensions of. monuments the visual divided in material and symbolic and the political The distinction between. visual and political dimensions is a useful analytical tool but it cannot be projected onto the onto. logical state of monuments in practice visual and political dimensions always function together and. influence each other through continuous mediations In section 6 we explain that cultural context. and specifically the surrounding built environment largely affect the meaning making of monuments. 30 The meanings of monuments and memorials toward a semiotic approach. 2 How have monuments been studied, The study of monuments has so far remained rather marginal within the humanities and social. sciences However there have been a significant number of studies focusing on different aspects of. monuments Urban and art historians have considered monuments as physical and aesthetic objects. presenting historical and artistic value In this context researchers have investigated the stylistic con. text in which monuments are erected with great emphasis on the visual dimension of monuments. describing in detail materials of construction size and colors Iconography has been broadly used to. identify the conventional symbols represented in monuments Other approaches have called for a. more interpretative understanding of monuments using iconology to explore the intrinsic mean. ings that reveal the basic attitude of a nation a period a class a religious or philosophical persua. sion Panofsky 1955 38, Sociological and anthropological literature has mainly focused on the commemorative functions. of monuments drawing attention to the practices of commemoration of the users In this context. monuments have been considered as built forms erected to commemorate the events and the indi. viduals that are significant for a group or for a community Alois Riegl has explained that commemo. ration has been the traditional function of monuments since their origins. A monument in its oldest and most original sense is a human creation erected for the. specific purpose of keeping single human deeds or events alive in the mind of future. generations Riegl 1903 117, Riegl has also outlined the criteria that governments should consider when approaching the. preservation of monuments In his opinion monuments should be preserved when they present a. combination of artistic and historical values Similarly Roger W Caves has shown that the preserva. tion of monuments depends on both artistic values and commemorative functions He has stated. that a monument is, A construction or an edifice filled with cultural historical and artistic values The conserva. tion and maintenance of monuments is justified by those values Historically the idea of the. monument is closely tied to commemoration of a victory a ruling a new law In the urban. space monuments have become parts of the city landscape spatial points of reference or. elements founding the identity of a place Monuments can be enriched by educational and. political functions as well as artistic ones and those centered on commemoration Caves. Geographers have used a different approach that considers the commemorative functions of. monuments as essentially political Since David Harvey 1979 analyzed the political controversy. over the building of the Sacr Coeur Basilica in Paris broad and diverse research within human and. cultural geography has considered monuments as tools in the hand of those in power to promote. specific historical narratives and dominant worldviews Hershkovitz 1993 Johnson 1995 Osborne. 1998 Atkinson Cosgrove 1998 Whelan 2002 Hay et al 2004 Benton Short 2006 This research. has broadly investigated how monuments can create selective historical narratives In doing so some. geographers have considered monuments as sites of memory Nora 1996 XVII i e material sym. bolic and functional sites able to frame and shape the content of what is remembered Kattago. 2015 7 Since memory is the basis for any identity building geographers have highlighted the role. of monuments in defining collective and national identity In this context they have investigated how. political elites use monument to shape and reinforce sentiments of national distinctiveness and unity. Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983 Anderson 1983,F Bellentani M Panico 31.
The aim of this geographical research has been to unveil the dominant discourses embodied in. monuments what history ethnicity gender and nationality have been represented in monuments. and what have been obscured or obliterated Is this oblivion deliberately planned so as to create a. dominant landscape of remembrance Johnson 1995 56, The geographical study of monuments has broadly grounded itself on the rigid opposition be. tween designers and users Some geographers have considered the interpretations of users as spon. taneous reactions to the more prominent meanings of political elites Accordingly they have assumed. that dominant cultures had more power to convey their worldviews in space Cosgrove 1989 127. Other geographers have considered monuments as potentially supporting every possible inter. pretation beyond designers intentions In this case alternative cultures Cosgrove 1989 131 in. terpret monuments in ways that are different or even contrary to the uses to which their builders or. owners intended they be put Hershkovitz 1993 397 Specifically this approach has focused on. contentious political circumstances in which oppositional and resistant movements appropriate. monuments and transform them into symbolic forms which take on new meanings and signifi. cance Cosgrove and Jackson 1987 98 99, Although the distinction between designer and user can be a useful analytical tool we argue that. designers and users equally contribute to the creation and development of the meaning of mon. uments Following proposals in semiotics of text the next section proposes to overcome the rigid. division between designers and users, 3 The interpretation of monuments between designers and users. While reviewing contemporary theories of interpretation in the literary domain Umberto Eco. 1986 explains that research in textual interpretation has been polarized between those assuming. that texts can be interpreted only according to the intentions of the authors and those considering. text as supporting multiple interpretations Later Eco 1990a 1992 suggests that interpretation lies. in an intermediate position between these two poles i e between the authors and readers inten. This view overcomes the idea that appropriate interpretations occur only when texts are in. terpreted according to the intentions of the authors Nevertheless it takes into account that several. strategies are available to the authors to control readers interpretations Eco groups together these. strategies under the terms Model Reader Eco 1979 7 11 According to this model authors si. multaneously presuppose and construct their readership making assumptions about its social back. ground education cultural traits tastes and needs As a consequence texts always refer to specif. ic readerships anticipating certain interpretations while resisting others Eco 1979 7 11 Lotman. Although authors seek to control users interpretations texts do not function as mere com. municative apparatuses directly imprinting meanings to readers Eco 1986 25 Instead texts are. aesthetic productions always leaving something unexplained. Every text after all is a lazy machine asking the reader to do some of its work What a. problem it would be if a text were to say everything the receiver is to understand it would. never end Eco 1994 3, As aesthetic productions texts become the loci where both authors and readers continuously. negotiate their interpretations on the one hand authors seek to control readers interpretations. on the other hand readers interpret texts according to their needs Yet certain constraints limit the. range of interpretations that texts may elicit, 32 The meanings of monuments and memorials toward a semiotic approach.
To say that interpretation as the basic feature of semiosis is potentially unlimited does not. mean that interpretation has no object and that it riverruns merely for its own sake To say. that a text has potentially no end does not mean that every act of interpretation can have. a happy end Eco 1990b 143, Hence the issue on the limits of interpretations can be overcome exploring the complex interac. tions between authors readers and texts themselves As Yanow states. meaning resides not in any one of these not exclusively in the author s intent in the. text itself or in the reader alone but is rather created actively in interactions among all. three in the writing and in the reading Yanow 2000 17. Similarly built environment as text anticipates a set of interpretations and uses while resisting. others Designers use several spatial strategies to create interpretative habits and pull users along a. specific understanding of built environment Paraphrasing Eco s Model Reader Marrone 2009 2010. 2013 calls Model Users those users that conform to these interpretative habits and use built envi. ronment according to the designers intentions, In an essay about architecture Eco 1997 argues that through specific design choices designers. can persuade users to interpret architecture the way they wish Hence architecture itself gives in. structions on its appropriate use, Architectural discourse is psychologically persuasive with a gentle hand even if one is not. aware of this as a form of manipulation one is prompted to follow the instructions im. plicit in the architectural message functions are not only signified but also promoted and. induced Eco 1997 196, However designers can never fully predetermine the interpretation of the built environment as. authors cannot control readers interpretations In fact only some users conform to the Model User. and interpretations diverging from the designer s intentions may arise Consequently a built environ. ment can be used in ways the designers would never have thought of. Eco 1972 see also Fabbri and Eco 1981 7 12 terms aberrant decoding when the interpre. tations of a message differ from what the authors anticipated According to Eco divergent decoding. of architecture is mostly unconscious He considers the messages of functional architectures such as. buildings as being rather coercive and indifferent. Architectural discourse is experienced inattentively Buildings are always around and. people percept them as a background Architectural messages can never be interpreted. in an aberrant way and without the addressee being aware of thereby perverting them. Thus architecture fluctuates between being rather coercive implying that you will live in. such and such a way with it and rather indifferent Eco 1997 196. This is not the case of monuments and memorials users may deliberatively interpret monu. ments in ways that are different or contrary to designers expectations Furthermore users can turn. monuments into spaces for resistant political practices As concrete manifestations of political power. Hershkovitz 1997 397 monuments have often been desecrated through resistant performances as. an example in April 2016 demonstrators smeared with colored dye many statues and monuments in. Skopje in sign of protest against the Macedonian government. The model describing the complex relations between authors readers texts and between de. signers users built environments can be applied to monuments The meanings of monuments are. hardly fixed and depend on the complex relations between designers users and monuments them. F Bellentani M Panico 33, selves Political elites use design strategies to generate interpretations that conform to their political.
purposes Nevertheless users may interpret monuments following their own opinions beliefs feel. ings and emotions As a consequence different and even contrasting interpretations often challenge. the officially sanctioned meanings of monuments see section 5 2 Lefebvre describes this capacity. of monuments to generate multiple interpretations though the metaphor of horizon of meanings. A monumental work like a musical one does not have a signified or signifieds rather. it has a horizon of meaning a specific or indefinite multiplicity of meanings a shifting hier. archy in which now one now another meaning comes momentarily to the fore by means. of and for the sake of a particular action Lefebvre 1974 222. The semiotic approach to monuments considers the meaning of monuments as always resulting. from the interplay between designers and users interpretations Moreover the semiotic approach. aims at exploring the meanings monuments come to have beyond individual interpretations para. phrasing Eco the intentions of monuments themselves. 4 The functions of the meanings of monuments, This section explores the meanings of monuments as divided in four interrelated functions. 1 the cognitive function refers to the kind of human knowledge monuments embody as well as. the knowledge users have about the representations of monuments 2 the axiological function. considers whether users value this knowledge positively or negatively 3 the emotional func. tion investigates which emotions and feelings monuments elicit and 4 the pragmatic function. concerns the practices of users within the space of monuments All these functions are only an. alytical in practice they are interdependent and act simultaneously in defining the meanings of. 4 1 Cognitive function, From the mid 1980 cultural geographers began to investigate landscape4 as communicative. devices that encode and transmit information Duncan 1990 4 Similarly monuments have been. considered as high symbolic signifiers that confer meanings on space Whelan 2002 508 Ben. ton Short 2006 299, The cognitive function of monuments regards the kind of human knowledge monuments em. body as well as the knowledge users have about the representation of monuments The knowledge. embodied in monuments is inevitably biased As every narrative selects some events while omitting. others Cobley 2001 7 monuments necessarily focus on some histories while obliterating others. Since every remembering nevertheless involves a forgetting Dovey 1999 73 it is natural that. monuments represent only specific events and individuals. Yet political elites can deliberately plan to obliterate certain histories Lotman and Uspenskij. 1975 46 Lorusso 2010 92 They can articulate specific national politics of memory to educate. citizens toward what to remember and what to forget of the past Tamm 2013 651 In doing so po. litical elites seek to promote dominant historical narratives to accommodate their political purposes. and to encourage future possibilities Massey 1995 185 Dovey 1999 12. However users may interpret the knowledge embodied in monuments according to their views. and needs Different interpretative communities have different ways of identifying and interpret. ing the representation of monuments Yanow 2000 The cognitive function concerns also this local. knowledge5 users have about the events and the individuals represented in monuments. 34 The meanings of monuments and memorials toward a semiotic approach. 4 2 Axiological and emotional functions, The knowledge users have about monuments affect how they value the events ideals and in. dividuals represented in monuments The axiological function concerns whether users positively or. negatively value what monuments represent and specifically how they assess the modes through. which monuments stage their scenes This evaluation is based on the axiological structure euphoria. dysphoria Greimas and Court s 1982 21 In less technical terms euphoria relates to positive and. attractive attitude toward monuments while dysphoria is when monuments elicit negative or repul. sive sentiments As a consequence of these evaluations monuments originate different emotional re. sponses which emotions and feelings do monuments elicit in users Have users positive or negative. attitudes toward what monuments represent, In practice each user has a different emotional response to monuments in different users the.
same monument may elicit pleasant emotions or it may recall uncomfortable memories. Greimas and Fontanille 1991 propose a semiotic model for the study of emotions and feelings. at the narrative and discursive level 7 This model can be employed to study the fluctuation of emo. tional attitudes toward monuments and to explore how emotional attitudes affect the practices of. users around monuments, With reference to the axiological and the emotional functions we distinguish between hot and. cold monuments 6 In general terms hot monuments can elicit in users uncomfortable or even. traumatic emotions They can stimulate fierce political debates that may result in forms of conflict. and resistance at a social level This situation occurs when there is a gap between the meanings. promoted by political elites and how users differently interpret contest and resist them An example. of a hot monument is the Red Army memorial of Tallinn its presence in the heart of Tallinn recently. became a touchy issue among Estonians For this reason in 2007 the Estonian government decided. to relocate it outside the city Some Tallinn citizens especially those belonging to the large Russian. minority living in Estonia perceived this act as a provocation for them the memorial represented. an important site of commemoration As a result of this relocation two nights of disorders broke out. in Tallinn for references about this case see Note 2. F Bellentani M Panico 35, Conversely cold monuments convey meanings that have become widely shared by a large part. of users For this reasons the representations of cold monuments elicit no intense emotional reac. tions Cold monuments are peacefully integrated into the everyday practices of users that perceive. them as ordinary built forms This is the case with monuments that have turned into neutral landmark. or mere meeting points, The category hot cold should be understood as a continuum between two terms defining distinct. attitudes toward monuments Originally monuments are not erected as hot or cold accepted mon. uments can turn into sites of resistance as well as controversial monuments can increasingly become. accepted and mindlessly experienced during the routine of daily life The evaluations and emotional. responses of users toward monuments vary as social and political conceptions change over time. Kosellek 2002 187 Kattago 2015 185 For example in post socialist cities monuments erected. during the Communist era have increasingly become sites of oppositional and resistant practices as a. consequence of the shift in political social and ethnic relations since the fall of Communism. 4 3 Pragmatic function, How users act around monuments largely depends on what they know about what the mon. ument represents cognitive function whether they value positively or negatively this knowledge. axiological function and on the emotions monuments elicit in them emotional function. Cold monuments are experienced as ordinary built forms within the public space They have. lost their ideological weight and turned into neutral landmarks or meeting points Elsewhere they. have become sites for unexpected practices for example the War of Independence Victory Column. in Tallinn capital of Estonia a memorial erected by the Estonian government as a sacred site to. commemorate soldiers who served in a struggle against Soviet Russia8 has turned into a place where. youngsters do tricks with skateboards and BMX Nevertheless the Estonian government still uses the. area around this memorial for formal practices of commemoration and other national rituals Around. the same monument oppositional political groups have from time to time organized demonstrations. against the Estonian government, 36 The meanings of monuments and memorials toward a semiotic approach.
The semiotic approach considers the formal the unexpected as well as the resistant practices as. equally contributing to the meaning making of monuments. 5 The visual and the political dimensions of monuments. This section investigates the visual and political dimensions of monuments Previous research. on monuments has proposed excellent methodological approaches to explore each of these di. mensions in turn Visual and political dimensions always function together and influence each other. through continuous mediations,5 1 The visual dimension. The visual dimension of monuments refers to monuments as material built forms beyond their. political implications It examines both the material features and the representations of monuments. Following the proposal of visual semiotics we divide the visual aspect into two autonomous but. related levels the plastic and the figurative Greimas 1984 respectively describable as the material. and symbolic levels, The material level considers shapes colors and topological distribution of monuments as inde. pendent from their visual representations Abousnnouga and Machin 2013 41 57 proposed a list. of categories to describe the material dimension of monuments They explain that several material. semiotic choices are available to designers in order to establish specific relations between monu. ments and users Abousnnouga and Machin 2013 16, The list below shows the categories that we consider pertinent for the analysis of the material. level of monuments The list includes some of the semiotic choices by Abousnnouga and Machin. 2013 41 57 and some topological eidetic and chromatic categories from plastic semiotic Greimas. 1 Dimensions large small wide narrow tall short, 2 Location degree of elevation distance proximity angle of interaction. 3 Materials of construction solidity hollowness texture of the surface. 4 Topological organization form shape, 5 Eidetic organization regularity irregularity curvature.
6 Chromatic organization colors brightness opacity lighting. The symbolic level regards the visual representation of monuments Since monuments stage spe. cific scenes the symbolic analysis of monuments focuses on the represented objects characters and. actions It looks at the iconographies and the symbols that monuments embody. Traditional research in visual semiotics for example Thurlemann 1982 108 has associated the. material and symbolic levels with the expression content distinction 9 This approach has conceptu. alized expressions as ontological entities regarding the physical and visually perceptible aspects of. texts As such expressions have become meaningless substances to which intangible meanings cor. relate For this reason traditional semiotic analyses have assumed that meanings can be extracted. directly from the materiality of visual texts without active interpretation processes Chandler 1995. The same assumption has characterized more recent semiotic research on the meaning of mon. uments For example Abousnnouga and Machin 2013 57 have analyzed war memorials in United. Kingdom implying that material design choices are able to directly communicate specific meanings. The authors have explained that a repertoire of semiotic resources is available to designers who. combine them to communicate specific meanings in context Moreover they have argued that ma. F Bellentani M Panico 37, terial and symbolic choices can have very different meaning potential Abousnnouga and Machin. 2013 131 for example stone as a construction material conveys longevity and ancientness but. also naturalness and softness when carved in smooth and rounded shapes Abousnnouga and. Machin 2013 134, We argue that stone as a construction material cannot directly communicate specific meanings. Rather stone signifies insofar as routinized patterns of interpretation are created i e when semiotic. resources has been repetitively used to convey certain meanings Nanni and Bellentani forthcom. ing This is to say that for example a tall memorial cannot convey imposing meanings of power sim. ply because of its stature or a glass sculpture cannot convey meanings of transparency only because. of its material of construction The semiotic analysis of monuments explores the strategies used by. designers to create and control the interpretations of monuments how does a tall memorial come. to convey imposing meanings of power in a certain context How does glass come to convey ideals. of transparency, Contemporary semiotic research has demonstrated that the material and the symbolic levels. cannot be automatically associated to expression and content respectively Paolucci 2010 This ap. proach has defined a more complex relation between expression and content and consequently be. tween material and symbolic both expression content and material symbolic are in a mutual relation. that defines from context to context something as expression material and something else as con. tent symbolic 10 Following these proposals the semiotic approach equally grants meaning potential. to both the material and the symbolic levels of monuments. 5 2 The political dimension, Monuments and memorials are built forms deliberately erected to promote selective and dom. inant historical narratives, Memorials and monuments are political constructions recalling and representing histories.
selectively drawing popular attention to specific events and people and obliterating or ob. scuring others Hay et al 2004 204, Monuments contribute to fix in space dominant discourses on the past Violi 2014 11 our. trans The discourses on the past are ideological i e they have a partial world vision that selects. specific interpretations of the reality while concealing others Eco 1976 289 290 Monuments em. body discourses that inevitably express selective points of view on the past focusing on convenient. events while marginalizing what is discomforting for an elite. For this reasons monuments are essential for the articulation of the national politics of memory. and identity 11 Along with other legal institutional and commemorative means political elites use. monuments to educate citizens toward what is and what is not to be remembered of the past. Tamm 2013 651 Since memory is the basis of any identity building monuments play an essential. role in shaping a given community s basic values and principles of belonging Tamm 2013 652. Hence the establishment of selective monumental landscapes can help political elites to promote a. single national identity and to reinforce sentiments of national distinctiveness. While articulating selective historical narratives political elites erect monuments to inculcate spe. cific conceptions of the present and encourage future possibilities Massey 1995 185 Dovey 1999. 12 In doing so political elites use monuments to set political agendas and to legitimate or reinforce. the primacy of their political power Therefore monuments can be used as tools to establish the so. cial dynamics of inclusion and exclusion Hershkovitz 1997 Hay et al 2004. Monuments are the most conspicuous concrete manifestations of political power and of. 38 The meanings of monuments and memorials toward a semiotic approach. the command of resources and people by political and social elites As such they possess a. powerful and usually self conscious symbolic vocabulary or iconography that is understood. by those who share a common culture and history Hershkovitz 1997 397. While political elites erect monuments seeking to convey dominant worldviews the meanings. of monuments are always mutable and fluid Hay et al 2004 204 Once erected monuments. become social property Hershkovits 1997 397 and they can be used reworked and reinterpret. in ways that are different from or indeed contradictory to the intentions of those who had them. installed Hay et al 2004 204 The interpretations of monument can also dramatically change over. time with the change of social relations concepts of nation and opinions on past events. the original meaning is not really written in stone at all Instead it might be remembered. completely differently later on or become the unexpected site of controversy The memorial. may even become invisible and unnoticed Kattago 2015 185. In transitional societies the dominant meanings represented in monuments can suddenly be. come peripheral and variously resisted at a social level 12 The tearing down of monuments erected. by Communist authorities was the sign of regime change throughout post socialist space In less. spectacular ways monuments of a bygone era can turn into more neutral landmarks For example. after the fall of Communism the monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia capital of Bulgaria has. turned from a sacred memorial into a space of entertainment and leisure Nowadays the area of. the monument is a popular meeting place for youngsters and attracts skaters and bikers that use. it for their tricks, In some cases monuments legitimizing the authority of political elites can turn into sites of oppo. sitional and resistant political practices Hershkovitz 1993 shows how Tiananmen Square in Beijing. the center of political power in China has embodied traditions of protest and dissidence Whelan. F Bellentani M Panico 39, 2002 describes how monuments dedicated to British monarchs in Dublin became sites of contesta. tion toward the political regime Through an examination of the controversies over the World War II. Memorial in Washington DC Benton Short proves that memorials wittingly or unwittingly generate. debates on identity and memory, Memorials and other forms of heritage are created in a social political context where. culture location class power religion gender and even sexual orientation will influence. what is considered to be worthy of preserving as heritage Because heritage nation. al identity and memory are socially constructed they are also inherently contested. Benton Short 2006 300, In other cases monuments considered sacred by their owners may become the object of scorn.
and ridicule Atkinson Cosgrove 1998 show how the Vittoriano a huge monument commemorat. ing the first king of united Italy in Rome has been derided throughout its history. These cases show that the meanings of monuments are never fixed once and for all and that that. designers cannot fully control monument interpretations Moreover they show that unexpected and. alternative uses continuously reinterpret the original meanings of monuments in ways the designers. would never have thought of, Therefore monuments and memorials are dynamic sites of meaning Osborne 1998 453 dis. posed to elicit multiple interpretations and various emotional responses The semiotic approach can. be useful to analyze the multiple interpretations of monuments drawing attention to both the offi. cially sanctioned meanings of monuments and the various ways they are interpreted or resisted at. the social level, 6 The contextual and inter textual relations of monuments. Monuments cannot be analyzed apart from their cultural context Cultural context largely af. fects monument interpretations Culture is the socially constructed signifying system that a group of. people actively produces and maintains 13 It consists of the basic and shared meanings that guide. behavior and channel interpretations of individuals and social communities Due to its complexity. culture includes different interpretative communities Yanow 2000 Each interpretative community. has a particular way to frame social reality based on specific cultural traits such as language race. ethnicity class religion political views socio economic interests and needs Yanow 2000 Hajer and. Wagenaar 2003, Eco calls these particular ways of interpreting social reality encyclopedic competences Eco. 1986 2 3 In Eco s term the encyclopedia is a stock of shared signs that interpreters use during. interpretative processes The encyclopedia is subdivided in two levels to include both the cultural. knowledge as a whole and the routinized ways to use that knowledge at the global level the ency. clopedia contains all the potential interpretations circulating in the socio cultural world at local lev. els it contains routinized sets of instructions to interpret specific portions of the socio cultural space. Eco 1986 68 Violi 1992 103 Lorusso 2010 108 109 Paolucci 2010 357 358 In practice differ. ent cultures select relevant local portions of knowledge to delimit specific areas of consensus that. differentiate them from other cultures Hajer and Wagenaar 2003 27 Thus different interpretative. communities interpret monuments differently on the basis of their shared stock of knowledge the. same monument can be for one community a sacred site of commemoration for another a source of. traumatic memories, As part of the broader cultural context the spatial settings in which monuments are located. 40 The meanings of monuments and memorials toward a semiotic approach. largely affect their interpretations Often the location of monuments has site specific connection to. events and people commemorated Benton Short 2007 300. In some cases monuments are erected in locations they themselves contribute to symbolically and. ideologically charge Frequently spatial settings are reconstructed or redesigned to provide appropriate. location for future monuments In other cases the manipulations of spatial surroundings can affect the. meanings of already existing monuments For example the manipulation of spatial surrounding has. been variously used in post socialist cities to lessen the visibility and the ideological weight of mon. uments erected during the Communist era Ehala 2009 140 14 After the transition monuments repre. senting Communist leaders were marginalized or even removed from public space while new political. elites establish monuments in accordance with the current social and political system For example in. Odessa Ukraine a statue of Lenin was turned into Darth Vader the villain of the film series Star Wars. This replacement was made after the Ukrainian government approved laws to ban Communist symbols. in April 2015 The Ukrainian government saw in the excision of Soviet material remains an opportunity. to exorcize the traumatic experience of Soviet rule and to build a particular conception of the future. In this latter case as texts always reinterpret other texts 15 new monuments actively affected the. meanings of the monumental space established during the Communist era Once erected mon. uments establish complex relations with the existing built environment In linguistic and semiotic. research intertextuality defines the process through which texts establish relations with other texts. circulating within the semiotic space Manning 1987 42 Post structural geographic research has. used literary intertextuality to describe the complex relations that built forms establish with other. built forms and social practices Duncan 1990 22 23 Semiotic analysis takes into account both the. cultural context in which monuments are erected and interpreted and the intertextual like relations. monuments establish with one another,7 Toward a semiotic approach to monuments.
Different disciplines have studied monuments and memorials using various theoretical and meth. odological approaches No doubt this research would be a source of inspiration for future research. on monuments and memorials However such studies wittingly or unwittingly created gaps between. the material the symbolic and the political dimensions of monuments Moreover they variously drew. more attention either to the intentions of the designer or to the interpretations of the user These. rigid distinctions fall short of describing the complex interpretative processes around monuments. and memorials, We proposed a semiotic approach to overcome these rigid distinctions predominant in the pre. vious research on monuments and memorials The main advantages of a semiotic approach to mon. uments and memorials are the following, i Semiotics provides a holistic approach overcoming distinctions such as visual political materi. al symbolic designer user art power and so on beforehand These distinctions may be useful analyt. ical tools in particular cases but they cannot be projected onto the ontological state of monuments. Lindstr m et al 2014 125 These distinctions should be considered as participative rather than. oppositional Paolucci 2010 defining a mutual process in which terms are directed and received to. and by each other Participative distinctions provide a methodological basis to investigate the mean. ings of monuments as actively resulting from 1 the interplay of the material the symbolic and the. political dimensions and 2 the interplay between designers and users interpretations. ii Semiotics analyzes the meanings of monuments as the results of a multi party communica. tion Lindstr m et al 2014 126 between different interpretative communities Yanow 2000 The. meanings one attaches to monuments depend on the interrelation between cognitive axiological. F Bellentani M Panico 41, and emotional functions Moreover the everyday practices of users are able to attach new meanings. to monuments, iii Semiotic analysis takes into account both the cultural context in which monuments are erect. ed and interpreted and the intertextual relations monuments establish with one another Specifically. it explores how the meanings of monuments originate from the dialogue between different interpre. tative communities within a cultural context,LIST OF FIGURES.
Figure 1 The Bronze Soldier in its current location the Defence Forces Cemetery of Tallinn Estonia. Picture taken by the authors in September 2015, Figure 2 The War of Independence Victory Column in Freedom Square Tallinn Estonia Picture tak. en by the authors in October 2015, Figure 3 Skating and biking practices near the monument to the Soviet Army Sofia Bulgaria Picture. taken by the authors in June 2015, 1 See for example Monument in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 2009 1130. 2 For example in Tallinn capital of Estonia the relocation in 2007 of a Red Army memorial caused. two nights of disorders during which one person perished This relocation had political con. sequences damaging the relations between Estonia and the Russian Federation Moreover it. affects the everyday interactions between Estonian and Russian ethic communities living in Esto. nia For further research on this case see Smith 2008 P bo 2008 Torsti 2008 Lehti et al 2008. Wertsch 2009 Ehala 2009 M lksoo 2009 Vihalemm and Kalmus 2009 Raun 2009 Kattago. 2012 Tamm 2013, 3 Eco 1990b 145 dubbed this intermediate way intention of the text or intention operis as. opposed to or interacting with the intention auctoris and the intention lectoris. 4 From the mid 1980s the textual paradigm ignited a representational approach toward land. scape within human geography In this context human geographers largely used the metaphor of. landscape as text Lagopoulos and Lagopoulou 2014 456 457 registered two main approach. es within the geographical research associating text to landscape landscape in text assumes that. researchers can reach appropriate understandings of landscape through the investigation of its. textual representations On the other hand landscape as text analyzes actually existing land. scapes focusing on the processes of landscape production and interpretation. 5 By local knowledge we mean the web of beliefs that characterize the interpretation processes. of individual and social communities Local knowledge is specific concrete practical and situated. in context Bevir and Rhodes 2010 75, 6 This category derives from the distinction between hot and cold societies by Levi Strauss 1990.
hot societies are disposed to social change and differentiation and focus on history cold socie. ties focus on myth and are more static and less differentiated. 7 Greimas and Fontanille 1991 provide a semiotic model to explore the emotional dimensions at. the narrative and discursive level They term passions the emotional states of the subjects dur. ing specific narrative programs These emotional states depend on the junctive relation between. the subject and the object i e if subjects are joined up with or separated from the objects they. value Each passion differently affects the subject s doing during narrative programs. 42 The meanings of monuments and memorials toward a semiotic approach. 8 Officially called the War of Independence Victory Column the Estonian government erected. this memorial in 2009 to commemorate the soldiers who fought during the Estonian War of. Independence 1918 1920 According to Estonian historical narratives this war is linked with. ideals of freedom and sovereignty since it culminated with the independence of the Republic of. Estonia for the first time in history, 9 Elaborating the Saussurean notion of the sign as a twofold entity Hjelmslev 1961 30 defines. expression and content as designations of the functives that contract the sign function He. considers sign as an entity generated by the connection between an expression and a content. 10 As Paolucci explained 2010 Hjelmslev already conceptualized the mutual relation between ex. pression and content in his Prolegomena to a Theory of Language The terms expression plane and. content plane are chosen in conformity with established notions and are quite arbitrary Their. functional definition provides no justification for calling one and not the other of these entities. expression or one and not the other content They are defined only by their mutual solidarity and. neither of them can be identified otherwise They are defined only oppositively and relatively as. mutually opposed functives of one and the same function Hjelmslev 1961 1943 60. 11 Following Tamm 2013 652 we use the terms national politics of identity memory to distin. guish the attempt by political elites to create a single collective memory from the other social. communities variously calling for the recognition of their memories and identities. 12 Lotman 2005 205 1990 123 204 used the spatial metaphors center and periphery to de. scribe different levels of organization of cultures At the center of the semiotic space there were. the most developed and structurally organized languages and in first place the natural language. of that culture Lotman 1990 127 Being more organized cultures at the center attempted to. prescribe conventional norms to the whole culture to generate behavioral norms and codified. standards Usually the majority of social agents simply embodied these norms and perceived. them as their own reality However divergent cultures placed at the periphery of the semiot. ic space could deviate from the central norms Lotman considered center and periphery as a. dynamic opposition while organizing laws of self regulation central cultures became rigid and. thus incapable to develop further Lotman 1990 134 on the other hand being more flexible. peripheral cultures continuously influenced the more organized central cultures. 13 We consider culture as an essentially semiotic concept Geertz 1973 24 Othengrafen and Reimer. 2012 52 In order to conceptualize culture in a more critical way most of the representatives of. the so called cultural turn in human geography and sociology investigated culture using semiotic. concepts For example Raymond Williams 1982 13 explained that culture is the signifying system. through which necessarily through among other means a social order is communicated reproduced. experienced and explored Cosgrove and Jackson 1987 99 considered culture as the medium. through which people transform the mundane phenomenon of the material world into a world of. significant symbols to which they gave meanings Peter Jackson 1989 2 suggested seeing culture. as made from maps of meaning through which the world is made intelligible. 14 For example the Estonian government sought to reduce the visibility of the Red Army memorial in. the city center of Tallinn to lessen its visibility and ideological weight Ehala 2009 140 Most of. the presented plans suggested balancing the symbolic meanings of the Red Army memorial with. Estonian national symbols However only minor manipulations were realized diagonal footpaths. replaced the direct access to the memorial new trees were planted the eternal flame was removed. and the text on the commemorative plaque was modified Ehala 2009 140 Smith 2008. 15 Eco 1986 68 called unlimited semiosis this recursive process through which a sign is always. reinterpreted by other signs This is the case also for texts as manifested sets of signs.


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