The death of the author in place names: A Barthesian intervention into critical toponymy

Düzgün D.

GEOGRAPHY COMPASS, vol.15, no.11, 2021 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15 Issue: 11
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/gec3.12598
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Aerospace Database, CAB Abstracts, Geobase, Index Islamicus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Veterinary Science Database, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: city-text, critical toponymy, place names, political geography, power relations, Roland Barthes, the death of the author, STREET NAMES, SOUTH-AFRICA, CITY-TEXT, POLITICS, MEMORY, POWER, KING,MARTIN,LUTHER, COMMEMORATION, GEOGRAPHIES, LANDSCAPE
  • Eskisehir Osmangazi University Affiliated: Yes


Over the past 2 decades, the critical toponymy literature reached a certain level, both qualitatively and quantitatively, that it is now both possible and necessary to subject the field itself to a critical evaluation. This study aims to make such a critical inquiry by arguing that although there has been important progress in critical toponymy studies, the field still has a tendency to approach place names on the basis of a hierarchy between 'powerful hegemonic groups' that control the official naming institutions and 'weak masses' who use place names in their everyday lives. This tendency, in turn, limits the critical toponymists by not allowing them to conceive what lies beyond the rejection and acceptance of hegemonic power. Although this article does not propose a clear-cut solution to this problem, it assumes that critical toponymists may learn from Roland Barthes who attempted to solve similar problems in literature by declaring the death of the author and the birth of the reader.