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Connecting cultural geography and semiotics: an analysis of the multiple interpretations of monuments and memorials in Estonia

Bellentani, Federico 2017. Connecting cultural geography and semiotics: an analysis of the multiple interpretations of monuments and memorials in Estonia. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis aims to advance the understanding of the connections between cultural geography and semiotics on the basis of which to analyse the multiple interpretations of the built environment. To do so, this thesis focuses on the interpretations of a specific part of the built environment: monuments and memorials. Monuments and memorials are built forms with commemorative as well as political functions: national elites use monuments and memorials to articulate selective historical narratives, focusing attention on convenient events and individuals, while obliterating what is uncomfortable for them. Articulating historical narratives, monuments and memorials can set political agendas and reproduce social order. Human and cultural geographers have focused on the social and power relations embodied in monuments and memorials. However, they have paid little attention to the processes through which monuments and memorials can effectively convey meanings and reinforce political power. Semiotic analysis has concentrated on the signifying dimension of monuments and memorials, while underrating the role of the material and the political dimensions. This thesis argues that a holistic perspective based on the connection between cultural geography and semiotics can overcome the limitations of previous research on the interpretations of monuments and memorials. This holistic perspective conceives the interpretations of monuments and memorials as depending on three interplays: a) between the material, symbolic and political dimensions; b) between designers and users; and c) between monuments and memorials, the cultural context and the built environment. These ideas are explored through an examination of two monuments in Estonia: the Victory Column, a war memorial erected in Tallinn in 2009 and the so-called ‘Kissing Students’, a fountain with a sculpture featuring two kissing young people unveiled in Tartu in 1998.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Monuments and Memorials, Built Environment, Cultural Geography, Semiotics, Identity and Memory Politics, Urban Planning and Policy, Post-Soviet City, Estonia.
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 December 2017
Last Modified: 18 May 2021 13:46

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