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Memorial Space and Gender. Analysis of Latvian Contemporary Memorial Sites

Fri, May 27, 10:45am to 12:15pm, Husky Union Building, 337


In recent years in the emergence of anti-gender movements mobilizing against the “gender ideology” took place. Anti-gender discourses are sending out messages that women as a group are secondary citizens negatively affecting the position and rights of women. These circumstances determine the importance of the topic.
The aim of the presentation is to consider contemporary memorial sites in Latvia from a gender perspective.
Research is based on several theoretical approaches: collective memory, cultural memory, contemporary gender studies scholarship in collective memory.
Three approaches in the study of contemporary memorial sites are used as:
(1) text, which enables questions aimed at understanding what historical discourses are represented and given via the landscape; (2) arena, a place for political struggles and debates; and (3) as performance in terms of ways in which memorial sites serve as a stage, literally and figuratively, for a wide range of performances.
The research of contemporary memorial sites is carried out using content analysis, as well as semiotic analysis and ethnographic approaches.
The research concludes that collective memory that is embodied in memorial culture has no gender balance; it is distinctly masculine, and it overshadows in collective memory and cultural memory the roles of women in history and culture, as well as their suffering during wars and in terms of the crimes that were committed by the totalitarian regimes. The absence of sculptures honoring real women reinforces the false view and disinforms the public that women have not made notable achievements nor contributed major advancements to our society.

Short Bio

Marita Zitmane is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Latvia, where she teaches courses on gender and media, advertising, and consumer culture. She has been a Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN fellow. She is interested in gender representation in media and in advertising. Her work examines how the media has shaped the notion of gender roles in post-Soviet society and how past notions of gender roles shape contemporary gender equality discourse. She is an author of several publications on gender representation in media and has participated in international conferences on Gender and Women’s studies. She also serves as a gender equality expert.

Professor Vita Zelče is Head of Information and Communication Science, Director of Master's and Doctoral Communication Programs, Director of Communication Science. She is a leading researcher of Latvian media history, social and women's history, collective memory, and ritual communication. Winner of the LU Annual Science and Science Communications, Kilogram Culture Annual Award, IREX, Fulbright, BAFF, DAAD scholarship holder. She has supervised the work of Latvian researchers in Horizon-2020 and ERA.NET programs.