Tanel Pern
University of Tartu, Department of Semiotics


This paper attempts to propose a way to conceptualise crisis from the position of semiotics of history. If we describe history (after Boris Uspensky) as a process of communication, we can interpret crisis situations as circumstances that the "language" – or ideology (in the Geertzian sense) – of the group is not sufficient to describe. A group that has reached a crisis situation attempts to reorient itself in the new situation by increasing its ideological activity, this also involves reconceptualising the group’s history. Two different conceptions of time can be observed in attempts to find the historical reasons of the crisis, which, in turn, lead to different perspectives of the future. From a semiotic point of view, the perspectives of the crisis are less related to its "objective" reasons and more to how these reasons are perceived at the current point in time.

Keywords: crisis, semiotics of history, ideology