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The discourse of counter-monuments: semiotics of material commemoration in contemporary urban spaces
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (CFS)
2016 (English)In: Social Semiotics, ISSN 1035-0330, E-ISSN 1470-1219, Vol. 26, no 5, p. 465-485Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyses strategies of material commemoration in contemporary urban spaces. Deploying a philosophical and social-theoretical interpretation systematised by, in particular, Multimodal Critical Discourse Studies and its analysis of material commemoration, the article compares the semiotics of modes of commemorating through monuments and counter-monuments. As is argued, counter-monumental commemoration aligns much better than the traditionally static and non-dialogic monuments with the ongoing post-modern transformation and fluidity of contemporary urban spaces. By the same token, counter-monuments also allow commemoration of complex and difficult past events – such as the Holocaust – that are traditionally surrounded by multiple interpretations and often-conflicting attempts to commemorate them. The analysis at the core of the paper looks in-depth at counter-monumental installations known as Stolpersteine, or Stumbling Blocks, developed since the early 1990s by the German artist Gunter Demnig as a form of commemoration of victims of National Socialism and especially the Holocaust. As is suggested, counter-monuments such as the Stolpersteine carry multiple meanings and have multiple functions which allow for diverse patterns of interaction with past/present. They also allow embedding the dialogue between forms of commemoration (monument/counter-monument) various recipients (locals/tourists, spectators/passers-by) as well as their varied interpretations and expectations of commemoration in the discourse of contemporary urban space.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge, 2016. Vol. 26, no 5, p. 465-485
Keywords [en]
Counter-monuments, monuments, collective memory, commemoration, remembrance, urban space
National Category
Humanities Art History
Research subject
Art History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-47042DOI: 10.1080/10350330.2015.1096132ISI: 000382814600001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84945162320OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-47042DiVA, id: diva2:881651
Available from: 2015-12-11 Created: 2015-12-11 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved

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Krzyzanowska, Natalia

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