, 73:165 | Cite as

Memorial landscapes: analytic questions and metaphors

  • Owen J. DwyerEmail author
  • Derek H. Alderman


Over the past two decades, geographers have probed the intersection of collective memory and urban space. Their sustained interest in the subject reflects an understanding of the social condition of commemoration and the important role that space plays in the process and politics of collective memory. Along with other critical social scientists, geographers envision these public symbols as part of larger cultural landscapes that reflect and legitimate the normative social order. A review of the extant literature indicates that geographers scrutinize memorial landscapes through three conceptual lenses that may be understood via the metaphors of ‘text,’ ‘arena,’ and ‘performance.’ These metaphors are in turn mobilized through a series of analytic questions that serve to identify the interests served and denied by landscape ‘texts,’ the ‘arenas’ in which they are produced, and the ways in which they are enacted via ‘performance.’ This article’s synopsis of the subfield’s predominant metaphors and its attendant questions contributes to the ongoing cultural geographic project of articulating and implementing methods for interpreting landscapes as open-ended symbolic systems.


Collective memory Commemoration Landscape Memorial Space 



We wish to express our gratitude to Reuben Rose-Redwood, Maoz Azaryahu, and the three anonymous referees for their generous comments and insights on earlier drafts of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyIndiana University School of Liberal ArtsIndianapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA

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