From Narratives to Monuments: Symbolic Transformation of the Cultural Landscape of the Kaliningrad Region
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Cultural Landscape Monuments Symbolic Politics Historical Memory Narratives Semiotics of Space Frontier East Prussia Russia Kaliningrad Region

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1. Vendina O., Gritsenko A. From Narratives to Monuments: Symbolic Transformation of the Cultural Landscape of the Kaliningrad Region // Journal of Frontier Studies. 2024. № 2 (9). C. 134-171.


The article is based on the materials of field research conducted in the Kaliningrad region in 2022–2023. The authors proceed from the idea of this region as a frontier emerged due to redefinition of jurisdiction of the territories of East Prussia after World War II and geopolitical transformations after 1991. Currently, the region is surrounded by EU countries, and this predetermines its perception as a civilizational frontier – a space of comparison between Russian and European ways of life, and intensified the politicization of local historical memory. The aim of the article is to examine the narratives underlying visual transformation of the cultural landscape of the Kaliningrad region since 1945, their relation to the tasks of de-actualization of the region’s past, appropriation of German heritage and its integration into the Russian cultural space. Cultural landscape is defined both as a product and environment of human activity saturated with a variety of artifacts, and as a sign system that forms, preserves, and controls a certain vision of the world. The use of the semiotic paradigm allowed us to consider monuments as its long-term semantic accents. We also took into account the multiplicity of actors influencing the organization and reorganization of the cultural landscape, the variability of the correlation of political forces and opportunities, and the participation in the transformation processes of both power institutions that limit the possibility of alternative perception of reality, and society that resists ideological programming. The evolution of semantic dominants of the cultural landscape we analyzed in the context of shifts in the ideology and attitudes of regional society. We conclude that the compromise tactics of appropriation of the region’s past, developed over time, are based on countering the challenges of the time and solving practical problems, rather than on political attitudes.
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