Spaces of memory and trauma: a cultural semiotic perspective
Over the last twenty years memory and trauma have been the object of fast growing attention in the Humanities and have been investigated within the perspectives of Cultural Studies and Critical Theory. In my talk I will discuss how a culturally oriented semiotic approach is more adequate in terms of reframing in a more insightful way some fundamental issues of this field. With reference to my recent research regarding memorials and museums, I will analyse the relationship between space and memory and the key role that a number of specific places play in the cultural memorisation of traumatic events, demonstrating how a semiotic methodology may serve to clarify a number of theoretical and methodological impasses. In particular I will discuss the notion of trauma, as it has been defined within the field of Trauma Studies, and also the notion of trauma sites, a category of ‘places of memory’ that exhibit a very specific type of semiotic functioning. The notions of trace, authenticity and indexicality will be presented and further analyzed in terms of their usefulness within this broader perspective.