Remapping Space in the Wake of Violence

by Gordon Lynch

Part of the shock of recent events in Norway is the contrast between the atrocity of the killings with the civilized, civic life of Oslo, and the beauty and peace of Utoya. The violence creates a rupture between the old, familiar meanings of these places, and the meanings they have today as places touched by evil and destruction.

One of the inevitable processes following Friday’s mass killings is a redrawing of the symbolic and moral maps through which people there experience the world. The human experience of space is never simply that of SatNav technology, of space as something to be physically traversed as efficiently as possible. We also experience space in terms of its symbolic significance and the meanings that it has for shared cultural memory.

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