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Unfolding the Semiotic Web in Urban Discourse

In Scientific Cooperation with Daina Teters


Edited By Zdzislaw Wasik

The main focus of this volume is on urbanity as a discursive way of human life in the city. Discourse is specified here in terms of semiotic codes and processes that link city dwellers as communicating selves into interpersonal and intersubjective collectivities when they create and interpret similar meanings embodied in material bearers. Accordingly, the unfolding of the semiotic web is understood, firstly, as detecting and evaluating the growth and manifestation of the sphere of meaning-bearers or a sequence of meaning-bearing events, and secondly, as identifying and explaining the constituents and aspects of discourse in the light of signs and/or sign-processes that aggregate individual participants of communication into discursive linkages on a lower level and discursive communities – on a higher level of social grouping. Some contributions deal with the discursive properties of human individuals in urban environments, and some others are devoted either to the meta-discourses on the city or discourses in the city.


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Daina Teters: The city as a space and the space in the city: A semiotic inquiry into the formation of Riga 73


Daina Teters LATVIAN ACADEMY OF CULTURE IN RIGA The city as a space and the space in the city: A semiotic inquiry into the formation of Riga1 The city is among the cultural phenomena, which do not seem to pose any problems in the eyes of daily consciousness, as it seems self-evident. However, at the level of its conceptual definition or reflection, it sud- denly turns into totally insoluble riddles. It is mainly the possibility of perceiving and viewing the city at various levels, which creates a paradoxi- cal combination of simplicity and conceptual complexity, and the simul- taneity of varying types of views, even their mutual overlapping in the reflecting mind, since a separate “pure” variant of the interpretation of the city can actually be obtained only as a result of abstraction. As a re- sult, every one of us lives in many cities in the world of our thoughts or rather in the diversity of the city. 1. Approaching the city as a multiaspectual phenomenon The simplest way of thinking about the city, which is accessible to everyone, is connected with everyday existence, living and acting in the city environment or, in fact, in some part of the city with a certain set of things and objects and with a similarly definite and familiar procedure of their use. It is a view linked to the daily routine. Stereotypical repetition in daily life makes us remember and use things and objects or signs in this environment as always relatively...

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