Post-war museumscapes: The spatial construction of violence and loss

Bilkic, Maida (2 May 2018). Post-war museumscapes: The spatial construction of violence and loss (Unpublished). In: 10th X-SCAPES Conference. Universität Bern, Schweiz.

This paper presents a social semiotic analysis (Van Leeuwen, 2005) of two museums in Sarajevo treated as spatial texts (McMurtrie, 2016). My focus is on the somewhat atypical “War Childhood Museum”, which through personal stories and mementoes documents the experience of those who did not play a role in starting the war, but have suffered its consequences. This museum works as what Niven (2013) calls a combi-memorial amalgamating memory, archive and exhibition, in which spectators are prompted to focus on war childhood and to relate children’s intimate narratives to their own personal and meaningful experiences. On the other hand, “The Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide 1992-1995” offers authoritative knowledge about the war through intense archive materials. In line with representational, interactive, and compositional metafunctions (Halliday, 1978), I identify the key semiotic features of the museums, their symbolic value, and the ways in which they constantly overlap in producing very different types of memorial spaces. For example, we see how representational and compositional meanings generate counter-monumental (Young, 1999) elements incorporated into the War Childhood Museum’s design (e.g. simplicity, dark tone, bodily engagement with the artefacts, alternating content) supporting its rhetorical effect. Interactionally speaking, my analysis shows how visitors’ bodily movements and the depiction of embodiment are significant for “reading” the personal stories/objects and framing them affectively. Unlike the “War Childhood Museum” which produces a self-reflectional, participatory war discourse realised through the complex interplay of convention (normative) and innovation (countering), the second museum emotionally overwhelms through the disturbing content of mass violence, succeeding considerably in shocking the visitors and (re)producing a clear picture of the enemy. Ultimately, we see two disparate spatial constructions of violence and loss emerging from the unabated “memory boom” in Sarajevo. Halliday, M. 1978. Language as Social Semiotic. London: Arnold. McMurtrie, R. J. 2016. The Semiotics of Movement in Space. New York and London: Routledge. Niven, B. 2013. From Countermoument to Combimemorials: Developments in German Memorialization. Journal of war and culture studies, 6(1): 75–91. Van Leeuwen, T. 2005. Introducing Social Semiotics. London: Routledge. Young, J. E. 1999. Memory and Counter-Memory. Harward Design Magazine

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Bilkic, Maida

Subjects:

400 Language
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages

Language:

English

Submitter:

Leona Josefine Irmgard Goop

Date Deposited:

25 Mar 2019 10:53

Last Modified:

25 Mar 2019 10:53

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/123608

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