A place for geography students and teachers to find interesting, current supplemental materials. Produced by geography professor Seth Dixon.
Cultural Meaning in Moving Monuments
As a graduate student I wrote my dissertation on the meanings within the symbolic landscape. Since very few are clamoring to read my 500 page dissertation, this is a sampling that shows one of my major points: changes in the symbolic landscapes are indicators that there are shifts in how individuals and communities are interpreting their identity and understanding their history. Here are 3 examples for Mexico and one controversial one from the Penn State campus.
Example #1: The “Indios Verdes“
In March 2010 edition of the Journal of Geography, I wrote an article entitled, Mexico City’s Indios Verdes: Exploring Cultural Patterns Using Public Memorials. In this article I used statues in Mexico City to show how public space plays a critical role in the historical narratives of a nation that are used to form cultural identity. The patterns and processes of cultural change are tangible in instance, making it a useful teaching example. The map below shows some of the places (with embedded pictures) that are mentioned in my Indios Verdes article.
I didn’t dream that the “historical narrative” of this memorial would ever be complex or a contentious issue. After the release of the Freeh report with incriminating evidence that Joe Paterno actively concealed the truth in regard to the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, I wrote what I felt should happen to this monument in a brief op-ed. Not necessarily forever, but for the here and now.