Accepted Paper:

War memorials in Greek countryside: their contribution to the syntax of the cultural space  


Christos Bakalis (University of the Aegean)

Paper short abstract:

Memorials constitute elements of cultural space wherever these have been placed. They are also factors that shape the spatial and social environment of the settlements by carrying variant symbolisms. This paper examines the historical and contemporary presence of memorials in Greek countryside. An anthropological and sociological approach will follow.

Paper long abstract:

Memorials contribute to the construction and reproduction of collective conscience and memory. They also participate to the shaping of built environment in villages, towns and cities. Periodically they become places of rituals.

In a back stage they represent needs of eras and societies / communities. Nevertheless memorials could be considered as actors in the public sphere of social reality, as well as parts of semiotic systems. In addition, they constitute both matrix of significances and distribution nodes of values; connected with variant cultural networks.

Here, the aim is a theoretical approach of the role of memorials in the cultural context of local societies. Within this framework, terms and methods are borrowed from scientific fields of cultural memory (the construction and reconstruction of collective memory, M. Halbwachs), symbolic interactionism (G. Mead), cultural communication (E. Leach), material culture (B. Latour), semiotic (F. Saussure), and urban sociology (G. Simmel).

The major categories of memorials that are located in Greek countryside will be presented. Also, some examples of memorials of northeastern Aegean islands will be given. Relatively to their nature, the initial concept, the construction and the use will be examined. Specifically, places, shapes, symbolisms and rituals will be under consideration. Finally, some conclusions for their role within cultural reality of residents will be given.

Panel P323
Spaces, memories, history, identity