Razing and raising of monuments, collective memory and national identity
Through the lens of semiotic landscapes, I analyse here collective memory formation in the Baltic republic of Lithuania. A theoretical focus on power relation in “monumental politics”, the concept of memoryscape (Clack, 2011), Van Gennep’s 2004 sociological application of liminality, and a methodological approach that “treats space as a discursive as well as physical formation” (Jaworski & Thurlow, 2010) are combined to examine the process of monument destruction, creation, and alteration in post-Soviet Vilnius. I argue that cultural landscapes represent not only relationships of power within societies but are also used as a tool of nation-building and power legitimation. I highlight a fourfold process: (1) razing – monumental landscape cleansing; (2) raising – the return of memory via the creation of national historical continuity symbols and of new lieux de mémoire (Nora, 1996) and the memorization complex (Train, 2016); (3) polyphonic memorial narratives of empty spaces; and (4) the memory limbo helix or recursive memories.
Published online: 12 November 2019
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