Historical Space As Narrative Medium: On The Configuration Of Spatial Narratives Of Time At Historical Sites

Narrative Sequence

Publication: GeoJournal, Vol. 73, No. 3

Author: Maoz Azaryahu & Kenneth E. Foote

Date of Publication: November 2008

PDF File: Azaryahu-and-Foote-2008-Historical-space-as-narrative-medium-on-the-confi.pdf

URL: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10708-008-9202-4


This paper examines how narratives of history are organized spatially at historical sites and memorial spaces, especially in urban settings and in places invested with a sense of collective memory. Much recent research has focused on landscape, memory, and place and how relationships of political and social power influence the representation of historical events in public spaces. Although the meaning of such sites may be hotly contested for long periods of time, we focus here on narrative theory and the related, but unexplored, issue of how such historical stories are configured on the ground at actual historical sites. We identify a number of narrative strategies which are frequently used to configure historical stories in space. Declamatory strategies using markers presenting a snapshot of an event are common, but sequential and non-sequential linear strategies are also used, as are thematic strategies that cross-cut space and time to present complex historical stories at various spatial scales. Examples are drawn from a range of historical sites in North America, Europe and Israel.