Symbolic representation in public space: capital cities, presence and memory
This article looks at some dimensions of battles over the representation of people in the capital cities of modern democracies, looking at the symbolic aspects of representation rather than its principal-agent or descriptive aspects. It starts by presenting an account of democratic public space, and an account of how public representations are constructed. It then argues that such representations matter in a democracy because they specify who belongs to the demos and who does not, which in turn has an impact on the efficacy calculations of individual citizens. Along the way, conflicts are revealed between competing drives to memorialise particular histories and aspirations and to forget others; and the limitations of merely-symbolic action as a means of redressing injustices.
Comparative Government and Politics