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Public Space and Public Memory: Monuments, Street Names and Public Debate in Post-Socialist Societies

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Public Space and Public Memory: Monuments, Street Names and Public Debate in Post-Socialist Societies

Joes Segal, Netherlands

Public spaces contain a variety of meanings, partly depending on their design and the various ways in which they are used, whether or not in accordance with the intentions of urban planners and politicians. Most conspicuously,meaning is attached to public space by means of invoking collective memory. Public monuments and street names tend to specifically refer to those events and personalities of the past that are deemed exemplary, at least by those in power. Taken together, monuments and street names more or less convey a canon of collective memory. However, this memory is seldom uncontested and at times can become quite problematic. For instance, in case of revolution or regime change, the canon of history might change dramatically, as the new political leaders aim to redefine history in order to support their worldview and claim to power. Old heroes, symbols and monuments suddenly become obsolete and may be violently repressed or destroyed while new ones are erected to create a sense of historical rupture or a new sense of historical continuity. In my presentation I will specifically focus on Berlin and Belgrade, with small excursions to Skopje, Tashkent, Ashgabat, Bamiyan and other places to discuss the dynamics of collective memory in public space in times of political reorientation.

  • Cultural Centre of Belgrade, Pop Up space, The Republic Square 5

  • Saturday, 24 May 2014
    lecture
    8.00 – 8.30 pm