Street names are ostensibly visible, quintessentially mundane, and seemingly obvious. This might be the reason why social scientists have hardly addressed the issue of street names in their studies of the structures of authority and the legitimation of power. In this paper the author explores the semiotic and political operation of commemorative street names. He sheds light on the procedures of the naming and the renaming of streets and the utilization of street names for commemorative purposes as a fundamental feature of modern political culture. Further, he elaborates on how street names, in addition to their fundamental role in the spatial organization and semiotic construction of the city, are also participants in the cultural production of shared past. In addition, the author uncovers commemorative street names as a powerful mechanism for the legitimation of the sociopolitical order. Commemorative street names provide for the intersection of hegemonic ideological structures with the spatial practices of everyday life. Therefore they are instrumental in rendering natural the official version of history which they incorporate into the urban setting. The author concludes that the power of (commemorative) street names stems from their ability to implicate the national narrative of the past, though in a fragmented manner, in numerous narratives of the city.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)