Luoghi della memoria: dalla traccia al senso / Places of memory: from traces to meaning

  • Patrizia Violi
Keywords: memory, trauma, space, trace, indexicality


This paper aims to investigate the ways in which space signifies the past and conveys memories, with a particular attention to traumatic pasts. After having offered a synthetic description of the specificity of a semiotic approach to the study of memory seen as an endless construction and reconstruction of the past, rather than its faithful representation, and having made a claim for a basic distinction between events and their sense, the article considers some particular places devoted to the transmission of a traumatic memory, denominated "trauma sites". Trauma sites are memorials that elaborate existing traces of mass murders of various kinds that have taken place in that specific point in space. This paper argues for the indexical nature of such places, and discusses the semiotic nature of imprints and traces, proposing a non-ontological perspective on indexicality based on beliefs rather than on referential links to external reality.


ECO, Umberto (1975), Trattato di semiotica generale, Bompiani, Milano.

ECO, Umberto (1979), Lector in fabula, Bompiani, Milano.

ECO, Umberto (1984), Semiotica e filosofia del linguaggio, Bompiani, Milano.

ECO, Umberto (1990), I limiti dell’interpretazione, Bompiani, Milano.

ECO, Umberto (1997), Kant e l’Ornitorinco, Bompiani, Milano.

ECO, Umberto (2007), Dall’albero al labirinto, Bompiani, Milano.

FREUD, Sigmund, BREUER, Joseph (1892-1895), Studien über Hysterie in A. Freud et al., Gesammelte Werke, Imago, London, & Fisher, Frankfurt, vol. 1, 1940-1968.

HALBWACKS, Maurice (1925), Les cadres sociaux de la mémoire, Alcan, Paris.

HALBWACKS, Maurice (1950), La mémoire collective, Alcan, Paris.

LOTMAN, Jurij. M., USPENSKIJ, Boris. A. (1975), Tipologia della cultura, Bompiani, Milano.

LOTMAN, Jurij. M. (1992), «Tekst i poliglotizm kul’tury », in Izbrannye stat’i, tomo I, Tallin, Aleksandra (trad. sp. «El texto y el poliglotismo de la cultura», in Semiótica de la cultura y del texto, Cátedra, Madrid, 1996, pp. 83-90).

LOTMAN, Jurij. M. (1998), Il girotondo delle muse. Saggi sulla semiotica delle arti e della rappresentazione, Moretti e Vitali, Bergamo.

PEIRCE, Charles. S. (1931-1958), Collected Papers, Harvard UP, Cambridge.

PRIETO, Luis (1991), «Il mito dell’originale: l’originale come oggetto d’arte e come oggetto di collezione», in Saggi di Semiotica II. Sull’arte e sul soggetto, Pratiche, Parma.

PUTNAM, Hilary (1994), «Sense, Nonsense, and the Senses: An Inquiry into the Powers of the Human Mind», in Journal of Philosophy, 91.9, 1994.

VIOLI, Patrizia (2012), «Trauma Site Museums and Politics of Memory. Tuol Sleng, Villa Grimaldi and Bologna Ustica Musuem», in Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 29 (1), pp. 36-75.

How to Cite
Violi, P. (2016) “Luoghi della memoria: dalla traccia al senso / Places of memory: from traces to meaning”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 00. Available at: (Accessed: 28September2023).