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Semiotic practices and reading experiences: urban inscriptions, political gestures and the image of the city

Grant number: 23/04805-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): August 20, 2024
Effective date (End): February 19, 2025
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Linguistics - Linguistic Theory and Analysis
Principal Investigator:Norma Discini de Campos
Grantee:Norma Discini de Campos
Host Investigator: Juan Angel Alonso Aldama
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Université Paris Cité, France  


This project builds a bridge between discursive semiotics (Greimas, 1983) and the semiotics of practices (Fontanille, 2008) in order to conceive and operationalize the concept of the reader as an interpreting actant and co-participant in semiotic practices. Here we are considering an ongoing semiosis, which leads us to think of the reader as the constituent actant of a significant ensemble made up of texts, support objects, environmental factors, among others, all of which make the semiosis advance in the space from which it emerges. Emphasizing a corpus made up of urban inscriptions such as graffiti and urban murals, we start from the principle that urban inscriptions constitute a semiotic practice. This is a practice that involves peculiar gestures of appropriation of the urban space, both by the graffiti artist or muralist and the passer-by who contemplates them as their interpreter. If, when speaking of semiotic practice, environmental factors are necessarily evoked as one of the actants that are part of it, and if, among the environmental factors, there is the physical and social organization of the city - or its morphology - the analyst should investigate how the city, not only as a demarcated territory but also as an urban conglomerate composed by various social classes, habits and customs, affects the same practice. According to our hypothesis, on the one hand, the inscriptions, with the syncretism of the languages (verbal, visual and others) that constitute them, redesign the city (Beyaert-Geslin, 2022b; Dondero, 2019; 2022). In order to do this, they change the image or the symbolic representation of the city and promote the emergence of places that play a role similar to that of the nodal points (Lynch, 2011), in the organization of urban space. On the other hand, the city redraws the contours of urban inscriptions, which brings us closer to an ecological semiotics (Fontanille, 2018) or a semiotic ecology of culture (Basso-Fossali, 2017). Contributing to the reciprocity of interventions between the urban inscription and the image of the city is the diversity - though relative - of the architectural configuration of the neighborhoods, the polysensoriality that may mutate between them, the varied rhythms of displacement of the human flow that they usually present, the visible marks of the diverse functioning of the social stratification that compose them, among other factors that come to distinguish them as components of the city's identity. We understand that, in the act of redesigning urban inscriptions, the city promotes the sensitive and moral densification of the meaning of its own practice. The places created by this practice, which intervene in the urban space through the peculiar tactics by which it is appropriated (Certeau, 1990), end up by composing, according to our hypothesis, the sensitive and moral densification of the reading experience. In terms of the moral and ethical bias, in such places conditions are created for the emergence of the political gesture (Aldama, 2018; 2023; Fontanille, 2021). Questioning the function performed by the urban inscription in the formation of the plural, mobile and opaque image of the city and questioning the function performed by urban places in the internal order of inscriptions will bring to light the constitution of urban space as a praxeological space. This is a space crossed by agreements and disagreements that sustain political conflicts - all of which are expressed in the different practices that occur in the same urban circuit and that are encompassed by forms of life in confrontation. (AU)

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