Thesis Title: The practices of urban reinvention and the multiple meanings of monuments: the case of Estonia
Primary Supervisor: Dr Francesca Sartorio
Secondary Supervisor: Dr Huw Thomas
Starting Date: January 2014
Completion Date: December 2016
Funding Source: Cardiff School of Planning and Geography PhD Studentships - Reference Number: R1116
Areas of Research Interest
• Monuments and memorials
• Places of remembering and commemoration
• Post-soviet city
There is a widespread idea that built forms convey meanings. This idea is based upon the assumption that built forms exhibit language-like qualities and are interpretable using linguistic methods. As a consequence, architects and urban designers expect built forms to convey specific meanings to users.
There is a significant literature exploring the issue on how built forms convey meanings within the fields of planning and human geography. Despite developments, these approaches have not proposed a consistent model to describe the production of built forms’ meanings. In response I will address this limitation by grounding my research in semiotics and specifically addressing research communities in planning theory and human geography. Semiotics can provide a solid framework to explore the production of built forms’ meanings. Semiotic analysis can prove useful in describing the multiple interpretations of built forms’ meanings by different communities.
In exploring this issue, this research focuses on monuments as products of elite culture. Through monuments, elite cultures represent selective dominant meanings, presiding events and favoured identities. The elite manipulation of monuments can change existent understandings of the past, while promoting specific conceptions of the present and encouraging future possibilities. In transitional societies, renewed elites spend a lot of resources to erect new monuments or to appropriately reinvent the remains of previous political regimes.
These ideas are explored through an analysis of two monumental spaces in Estonia. Ethnographic fieldwork took place between February-October 2015 between Tallinn and Tartu. Primary data were collected through participant observations and semi-structured interviews.
“Urban semiotic analysis of the city centre of Prijedor (BiH)”, AISS (Associazione Italiana di Studi Semiotici– Italian Association of Semiotic Studies), presented on October 5th, 2013.
“The touristic communication as a strategic and ideological instrument: the prototypical imaginaries of Estonia”, University of Tartu, Summer School of Semiotics, presented on August, 21st, 2013.
Collaborator at spatial analysis workshop, festival ComodaMente. Paesaggi, Parole Festival, Vittorio Veneto (Treviso, Italy), September 6-8th, 2013.
Attended workshop “Identities of the places, places of identities”, in Prijedor (BiH), organized by C.U.B.E (University of Bologna) and the association “Il Trentino per i Balcani”, April 26-30th, 2013.