Places of Memory

In the article, “Places of Memory” by Karen E. Till she discusses how some of these places could be museums, monuments, cemeteries, statues, public buildings and squares, streets, historic preservation projects, plaques, and memorials. These things create symbolic space through which concepts of identity are performed and contested. Many of these places were built for a purpose. Not only that, but these places are not built in fixed space. They are open to change; especially during times of instability or transformation. Places are open to a number of different interpretations by individuals. Finally, places of memory are established for different reasons. One of these reasons could be to challenge the dominant power relations or to contribute to the politics of everyday life. Because we all interpret the past differently, these interpretations also affect individuals and social experiences of the present and future. Studies about place and memory provide evidence about how social processes may lead to political action.

One of the examples that Till discusses involves Yugoslavia and how the mainly Christian Serbs established a monument in a mainly Islamic Albanian region. Till states that by connecting the land to the history of Serbian people, the government is essentially reestablishing their claim over the land today.

When I think about the concept of “places of memory,” I think about the monuments constructed as baseball stadiums as well as the stadiums themselves. The monuments remind us of not only the players that started one of the most important American pastimes, but of all of the struggles that the United States went through to keep the leagues functioning during the World Wars and the depression era and of the struggles that some of the most famous players went through to earn their spot in the history of the game. Some examples of these players would be Jackie Robinson (the first African American to play Major League Baseball), Babe Ruth (the most well-known and arguably the most famous baseball player of all time), and Ty Cobb (helping to define baseball for many fans as well as being dominant in every aspect of the game).The stadiums that were constructed also hold significance in places of memory. Not only are some of these stadiums multi-purpose stadiums (meaning they can be used for different events) but some of the most important, historical moments happened in some of these stadiums. For example, Wrigley Field, having been built in 1914, was the site of the famous “Called Shot” homerun made by Babe Ruth. Another important moment that would go down in history as being in the top 10 most important “places of memory” would be the St. Louis Gateway Arch. The arch was built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States and is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

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