Designing Scandinavia: A Cultural Semiotics Approach to Dialogic Image making.

Forskningsoutput: Kapitel i bok/rapport/Conference proceedingKonferenspaper i proceeding


Evaluations of the other culture is a strong force, not only in cultural dialogue but, consequently, in a culture’s formation of itself. Cultures are formed, as it were, in encounters that include domination, conflict, and dismissal as much as appreciation and smooth exchange. In this paper, the construction of cultural identity is discussed, in a study of a Scandinavian Theme Park proposal that was made in a dialogue between American consultants in co-operation with a local Swedish design team. The image production in this design proposal shows that “Scandinavia” appears as a dialogic construction that adopts mainly ready-made cultural identities, or cultural clichés as it were. Scandinavian (or Nordic) culture is represented in the visualised proposals by stereotypes such as Vikings, trolls, or element from old Nordic mythology. American (or rather USA-based) values are rather indicated in the project by the way the economic calculus was made, as well as by the choice and style of images in the project, both aspects being strongly influenced by the way Disney parks had been physically realised as amusement areas with attractions building up a world of its own. In a semiotic account of this architectural decision-making, models of culture are here discussed, where the tripartition of culture into Ego culture, Alter culture and Alius culture (Lotman 1990; Sonesson 2000; Cabak Redei 2007) can be seen as a basic abstracted backdrop to what we mean by cultural difference. It is here suggested that this general tripartition, in order to account for the uneven reciprocity that shapes it, could benefit from input from post-colonial studies, and the terms of “mimicry” (Bhabha 1984) and “subalterity” (Spivak 1988), i.e. additions from studies in the particular type of cultural relationships where dominance, or the reciprocal balancing of dominance relations, is fundamental. In a graphic, diagrammatic, representation and development of these thoughts on culture formation, it is here suggested that both cultural tripartition (as pacts between two “equal” parties kept together at the cost of a third “neglected” party) and the view of uneven reciprocity (as pacts between two cultures in situational, but not mutually equal need of each other) is needed to cast light on the mechanisms of cultural interchange. This means that not only is otherness, curiosity and neglect acknowledged, but also mimetic behaviour and lack of voice, as strong forces in cultural interchange. Such an approach, based on semiotic capabilities, supports here an analysis of what is sacrificed and what is kept, when images of cultures are created, hence when cultures are formed.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Humaniora
  • Samhällsvetenskap


Titel på värdpublikationISI International Semiotics Institute
FörlagInternational Semiotics Institute
Antal sidor11
StatusAccepted/In press - 2017 nov 30
Peer review utfördJa
Evenemang10 NASS Semiotic Studies / 13 IASS-AIS conference , Kaunas Lithuania, 26-30 June 2017 - Kaunas University of Technology, Kaunas, Litauen
Varaktighet: 2017 jun 262017 jun 30


Konferens10 NASS Semiotic Studies / 13 IASS-AIS conference , Kaunas Lithuania, 26-30 June 2017