Signifying passages: The signs of change in Israeli street names

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Street names are mundane media through which the past is commemorated and introduced into the public sphere. Viewed from a semiotic perspective, street names constitute a spatial-text produced over time, capturing the political, social and cultural climates in which it is formed. In this article we propose an analysis of street names in four Israeli towns of different social, political and demographic backgrounds. The study is based on a two-stage analysis: an analysis of the local narratives and a hermeneutic reading of the street maps as spatial-texts. This is followed by a quantitative summary of street names according to categories. By studying practices of naming and renaming, and deciphering key elements in these spatial-texts, we conclude that street names reflect the changing character of the Israeli political, social and cultural orders. As such, they are indicative of shifts occurring in the social production of the Israeli collective memory.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)365-388
Number of pages24
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Israeli culture
  • collective memory
  • commemoration
  • spatial text
  • symbolic power
  • urban symbols


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