Asunción López-Varela
Pages 7-12
DOI: 10.5840/cultura2012921


Etymologically derived from the Greek word semeion which means ‘sign,’ semiotics can be defined as the study of signs and of the systems, rules and conventions that allow signs to have meaning. This thematic issue of Cultura Journal seeks to provide an overview of different theories on the study of sign systems and their impact upon social practices across the world. In order to achieve this goal, the volume incorporates papers that deal with ancient civilizations and contemporary societies, ways of think- ing and experiences from a broad spectrum of world cultures. Interest- ingly, the impact of Western semiotics is strongly felt upon the non- Western analyses that form part of this issue. Many studies take as start- ing point the work of the North-American pragmatist Charles Sanders Peirce; others focus on the ideas developed by European linguists such as Ferdinand de Saussure, C.K. Ogden and I.A. Richards, or Roland Barthes. Undoubtedly, this shows the impact of critical theory on knowledge development and dissemination. But even more importantly, it illustrates the uneven distribution, and unfair location of knowledge production in certain economic clusters and regions of the world, dis- closing the mechanisms that enable the empowerment of certain cultures at the expense of others.

Globalization is not just a fashionable word. In recent years digitaliza- tion has caused sign systems, in an interconnected world, to multiply at an unprecedented speed. This situation prompts important questions re- garding the impact of material formats (from clay tablets and papyrus to new media) on the creation, dissemination and reception of knowledge. More than ever, it is ethically necessary to incorporate the very diverse forms and systems used in the reproduction of cultural memory and ‘glocal’ (both global and local) heritage in distinct world cultures. Atten- tion to changing semiotic patterns and their supporting formats shows how they come to influence the economies of culture.