Monument as semiotic landscape
The contested historiography of a national tragedy
As semiotic spaces, monuments convey messages through multiple information design modes, including language, materiality and emplacement. As research on semiotic landscape has pointed out (e.g., Shohamy and Waksman 2009, Abousnnouga and Machin 2010, Train 2016), these messages are often contested in nature and convey competing discourses inherent in the spaces they occupy. This paper explores those competing discourses manifested in a monument dedicated to the 1976 student protest and violent suppression of it by the Thai military and right-wing paramilitary groups. Working within a production of space framework (Lefebvre 1991) and drawing on insights from the grammar of visual design (Kress and van Leeuwen 2006) and nexus analysis (Scollon and Scollon 2004), the paper attempts to show how these contested discourses are reflected in the monument’s historiography as conceived, in its physical appearance and emplacement, and as it is experienced today. The analysis is based on photographic data of the monument and its immediate physical context, published accounts of the events of October 6, and interviews with survivors, commemoration planners, and the monument’s designer.
Keywords: monuments, multimodality, contested discourses, historiography, student protest, massacre, Thammasat University, Thailand, October 6
Published online: 19 October 2017
Abousnnouga, G. and Machin, D.[ p. 120 ]
Committee for the Construction of the Thammasat History of Democracy Monument
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Starks, Donna & Nhan Phan
Vajta, Katharina, F. Neveu, B. Harmegnies, L. Hriba, S. Prévost & A. Steuckardt
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