Leaving one’s mark: Self-authorized commemorative practices in a rural semiotic landscape

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This study introduces the concept of “self-authorized commemorative practices” to the analysis of semiotic landscapes. It aims to draw attention to commemorative practices by which individuals assert their presence within the semiotic landscape, beyond the influence of powerful authorities that typically determine the visible commemorative aspects of public space. The multimodal practices employed include the use of language, images and artefacts, and their emplacement in the semiotic landscapes. The study is based on two complete photographic inventories of all signage in public space in a rural community in northwest Germany, taken over a ten-year period, in addition to more than twenty years of participant observation. The findings reveal layers of self-authorized commemorative practices, often concealed in plain sight but discernible to the trained eye, interwoven with the local narratives associated with the semiotic landscape. Individuals, through their own means, leave lasting marks that commemorate their existence, achievements, deceased loved ones, or social traditions. These self-authorized practices contribute to the rich tapestry of the semiotic landscape, challenging and expanding our understanding of commemoration beyond the influence of traditional authorities
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalMultimodal Communication
Early online date19 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2024 the author(s), published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  • Rural semiotic landscapes
  • Commemorative practices
  • Self-authorized commemorative practices


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