SammendragThis investigation concerns methodological questions in the study of monuments. How can their meaning be delineated and understood in relationship to a broader historical culture? Three lines of argument are pursued, drawn from my own research and related to discussions in international research. 1) International research has until recently mainly focused heavily on national historical culture and symbols and thereby underestimated the existence of more complex, ambiguous and polysemic uses of monuments where other loyalties and hopes than the national are fostered. 2) From this it follows that monuments ought to be interpreted rather as processes than artefacts. The actual erection of a physical form is only one distinct phase in the making and uses of monuments which are before and after that used for specific and diverging purposes. 3) The context of historical culture has to be appreciated in a wide sense as constituted both by institutional practices, political contexts and ambitions, commercialised settings, mediated narrations and existential needs. Different methodologies developed for the study of monuments tend to focus on either their semantic meaning as pieces of art, their biography as statues and more rarely sees them as processes connected to the wider historical culture. The reason for this is that the amount of knowledge demanded to pursue the recommended line of inquiry rather exceeds the capacity of individual research and implies cooperative design of projects.
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