The first reading for the week, Karen E. Till’s Places of Memory, discusses the idea of using places as a form of nationalism, so that memorials, monuments, museums, and the like become more than what they are, they become symbols for a country and its inhabitants. The reading itself uses Kossovo Polje as an immediate example, where a war memorial was established as a symbolic act, yes, in remembrance of an old legend, but also as a political act, stating that this place serves to unite the masses. It goes on, using examples such as the German Historical Museum, but in one particular section, it is mentioned that many of these sites are considered to be gendered, that is, pertaining to males over females. While this is certainly true in some situations, the author goes a bit overboard in her beliefs, as it would be virtually impossible on the scale she suggests, one in which nearly every sacred site is at least slightly gendered.
In the latter article, by Gerald Webster, he talks about iconography as a form of nationalism, such that, rather than places as symbols of a nation, this is about things as symbols of a nation, with flags being front and center in the discussion. Using the Iraq war as an example, Webster points out various topics in which his argument comes to fruition. Noting that because the evidence of WMDs in Iraq was dubious at best, if 9/11 had not happened, there would have been no war, as the justification alone was not enough to declare war. He says this in conjunction with explaining what has come to function as an icon, which includes not only flags, but also “notable monuments, important buildings, stories and myths about the country’s heros, national anthems, coats of arms, and even national athletic teams” (Webster 2).
As explained, then, not only are flags and other simple objects icons, but monuments are as well, meaning that places of memory can be used as a form of iconography as well. Based on this meaning, places of memory can begin to be seen anywhere, from simple places such as local parks and rec centers to more intricate and obvious places, such as war memorials, courthouses, and even local statues.