Signs and symbols in space and place – Sites of memory in contemporary Europe and the U.S.

Ken Foote, University of Connecticut, USA
Anett Árvay, University of Szeged, Hungary

Sites of memory are often powerful symbols. Varying greatly in form, scale, and meaning, they range from massive memorials honoring key events in a nation’s past, to small shrines marking important the life events of families and communities. These monuments, memorials and shrines draw upon a repertoire of signs and symbols specific to particular communities and nations and often rooted in particular religious and cultural traditions.

Drawing insight from the rapidly growing field of memory studies, our talk draws particular attention to the spatial dimension of public memory and how the location and positioning of monuments and memorials affects their symbolism and meaning. A memorial is placed on the exact site of a historical event may, for example, convey quite different meanings from one positioned far away from the event. Our point is that, just as the positions and movements of chess pieces on the game board are keys to strategy, the positions and movements of memorials are one aspect of understanding their meanings across a range of scales.


Dr. Ken Foote is a professor of geography and director of the Urban and Community Studies Program at the University of Connecticut.  Much of his work focuses on the social and geographical dynamics of public memory and commemoration, especially the response to violence as expressed in landscapes of the US and Europe.  Among his books are Shadowed Ground: America’s Landscapes of Violence and Tragedy, the co-authored Narrating Space / Spatializing Narrative, and the co-edited Re-reading Cultural Geography.  Dr. Foote is a past president and fellow of the American Association of Geographers.



Dr. Anett Árvay heads the Hungarian Studies programs at the University of Szeged, Hungary. Anett training is in Hungarian and English language and linguistics and her doctorate is in applied linguistics from Eötvös Lóránd University in Budapest.  She has lectured on the cultural geography of Hungary, intercultural communication, verbal persuasion in media discourse, visual culture of Hungary, among other topics. Her research endeavors are linked to the interdisciplinary field of Hungarian studies, with a special focus on Hungarian public place, political and historical memorials, and commemorative traditions.  


This talk comes from Contested Places, Contested Pasts: Public Memory and Commemoration in Contemporary Hungary, co-authored with Dr. Anett Árvay, and now in press.



Sunday June 27, 2021 at 5:00 PM Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna time.


Ken Foote
University of Connecticut, USA

Anett Árvay
University of Szeged, Hungary


Federico Bellentani

Digital Research Manager, Injenia, Bologna

Matthias Egeler
Institute for Scandinavian Studies of the Ludwig Maximilian University,


Gabriele Aroni

Ryerson University / OCAD University, Toronto, Canada

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