Multimodal discourses of collective memory

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The aim of this paper is to analyze the interaction of the visual and the verbal layers of the memorials in the former extermination sites in Poland (cf. Young 1993). Two of the selected memorials were designed and erected in the 1960s (Chełmno nad Nerem and Majdanek) while the other two (Bełżec and Radegast) in the 2000s. The four case studies use the analytic categories of image schemata and metaphoric and metonymic extension in the analysis of the memorial landscape and critical discourse analysis in the analysis of the verbal layer. Memorials are memory carriers which have been constructed to facilitate rituals of commemoration designed to strengthen the in-group ties and collective identity. They thus become the potential vehicle of ideology of the period in which they were created. The analysis of the verbal and visual elements of the representation show how the change in the dominant discourse affected the design of the memorials, as well as how the traumatic landscape, in which these memorials are erected, motivated their imagery.


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