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Title: Collective memory and identity narratives at the 20th and 25th anniversary events of the fall of the Berlin Wall
Author: Viol, Maren
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 4388
Awarding Body: Edinburgh Napier University
Current Institution: Edinburgh Napier University
Date of Award: 2016
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Acts of commemoration construct narratives of collective memory and identity, shaped by organisers' agendas. Existing literature presumes that organisers primarily use commemoration for national political, social and cultural outcomes. Contemporary commemoration, however, takes place in times of a contested role of the nation for collective memory and identity, while events are commonly used for economic outcomes in addition to political, social and cultural ones. There is hence not enough research that explores the roles and uses of contemporary commemorative events. Drawing primarily on literature from the nascent fields of memory studies and event studies, this qualitative constructionist research explores how narratives of collective memory and identity emerge at commemorative events of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the major anniversary years of 2009 and 2014. These events are an interesting and suitable context for the research as they were the first events of this kind and commemoration of the Wall poses various challenges due to the Wall's shifting meanings. Findings from a semiotic analysis of the events suggest that these events construct narratives beyond the national dimension. By interpreting the historical events to be rooted in Berlin and of international significance, strong local and international identity narratives are constructed. Findings from a thematic analysis of documents and interviews with organisers illustrate that organisers use the events for branding and event tourism development. This research argues that such emerging uses of commemoration play a significant role for the commemorative narrative. The findings further illustrate the permeable nature of the state-sponsored narrative in Berlin and the now consolidated role of Wall-related memory for local identity construction. The research contributes to the theoretical understanding of commemorative events in general and Berlin Wall commemoration in particular, as well as of contemporary German national identity. It further makes a methodological contribution on the use of semiotics in this context. An applied contribution on implications for the management of commemorative events is also made.
Supervisor: Theodoraki, Eleni ; Anastasiadou, Constantia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Collective memory ; identity ; commemoration ; nationhood ; qualitative constructionist research ; 338.4791 Tourist industry ; 394 Events Management ; GV Recreation Leisure