EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W084)

Balkan cities, Balkan dreams: exploring the future(s) of the city

Location Auxilia AX2
Date and Start Time 27 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenor

Levent Soysal (Kadir Has University, Istanbul) email
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Long Abstract

Once viewed as "Eastern Europe," Balkan countries now aspire to become part of "Europe" and try to enhance their images. Looking to the future, Balkan cities, similar to their counterparts elsewhere, strive to be world-class cities where great things happen, and simultaneously enable the re-imagination of the national. They undertake grand architectural and infra-structural projects, ranging from new roads and bridges, luxury residences, and low cost housing to monumental shopping malls and office towers. They desire to host mega events, such as design and fashion weeks, art and film festivals, and international sports meets. Ljubljana resembles one grand, open-air café. Istanbul boasts of its Biennale and Formula One. Sarajevo rebuilds its heritage sites. The Macedonian government plans to mount a statue of Alexander the Great in the center of Skopje. Sofia opens its doors to visitors from other EU countries. In this workshop, we aim to explore the processes that underlie Balkan cities' efforts to enter the new global landscape. Traversing diverse historical and contemporary settings, we seek to explicate the new practices, economy, and spatial distribution of urban life. Our animating concern is to elucidate the changes in the cultural and social topography of Balkan cities under the duress of neo-liberal rebuilding projects and globalizing desires, as these cities get incorporated, yet again, into the world culture and economy. While doing so, we will examine the voices and praxis of the institutional and individual actors involved, and treat the historically peculiar relationship between the Balkans and the West as a catalyst and resource for change.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Introduction: how to understand the world city?

Author: Levent Soysal (Kadir Has University, Istanbul)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper will introduce the panel and present questions for debate.

Ethnocratic reordering of public space in Macedonia

Author: Goran Janev (Sts Cyril and Methodius University Skopje)  email
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Long Abstract

The ethnocratic order in Macedonia that emerged in response to a larger crisis of recognition and acceptance on the international stage, reached its culmination with the symbolic reconstruction of Skopje as a grand national capital. The forceful reordering of the public space produced the first grass-root urban social movement and stirred a generation raised under constant crisis to react by staging creative protests and using new social media to communicate its ideas. From a diachronic perspective and based on my fieldwork findings, moving from global, regional, national to local levels, via ANT, I attribute agency to the Old Turkish Bazaar, its pace, soundscapes, smellscapes and traditional codes of civility and modes of conviviality and argue that this space has transformed itself from a border zone of the last decade into a contact zone recently and carries the potential for wider social transformations. The radical intervention in the public space, in the space of the last esnafi and of young Archibrigadiers brings them together as main challengers of the ethnocratic regime.

If power is an image: Skopje 2014

Author: Fabio Mattioli (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)  email
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Long Abstract

"We saw Skopje as in a Dream. Macedonia is in Europe, already" titled the newspaper "Večer", interpreting the collective amazement that followed the public announcement of urban plan Skopje 2014. In this video clip, "nice", "European" and "modern" double-decker buses, triumphal arches and renaissance façades re-replace the "ugly" and "old" socialist buildings of the contemporary Skopje. These images are dense with meaning, as they recall mythicized memories of the city before the earthquake, e.g. double-decker buses and the Army Hall, dispel the "dark" socialist time thus prospecting a "paradisiacal" European future.

The paper will analyze the use of aesthetics as a "technology of power" embedded in social memory, considering images used by planners and contesters alike. It will try to decrypt the network of meaning condensed in those images, focusing on their performative function as devices that use experiences of the collective memory as tools for shaping a new perception of the urban and social landscape.

Prishtina places: shifting experiences of the city

Author: Karin Norman (Stockholm University)  email
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Long Abstract

"Prishtina is not a city you fall in love with at first sight". Thus the Bradt guide book on Kosovo/a 2007 opens the section on Prishtina (Albanian spelling) and ends by cryptically stating, "A new era has begun for Prishtina". What does this 'new era' entail? And for whom? How are places, events, and names in Prishtina lived and narrated by different categories of people?

House construction in Prishtina has been rampant, seemingly oblivious to any urban planning. The partly worn-down apartment buildings, as the glassy high-rise constructions, the monuments, mosques and churches, the shops, cafés, car-washes, and garbage containers condense many of the significant activities, relations and meanings that make up this city. In this paper, I shall expand on a description of a few neighborhoods to understand how the city is experienced by its residents, considering especially places that are associated with children's situatedness and everyday lives.

And now what? Analysing the transition from a socialist city in postwar Sarajevo

Author: Caterina Borelli  email
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Long Abstract

In my proposal of communication I present an ongoing ethnographic research I am carrying out in Sarajevo. After a brief exposition of the actual situation in the Bosnian capital city, where a special stress will be put on the political economy of the urban space management by institutional and private actors, I'll focus on the theoretical approach that supports my research: this doesn't take into account the consequences per se of the recent war on urban fabric, social relationships and images of the city, but the transition from the socialist period to the current phase of opening up to global market and culture, in the specific case of a city recovering from war. In line with other scholars of post-socialism, I'll explain why I consider the specific social relationships which spread out in the city and the different uses of the urban space as valid indicators for the analysis of such a transition and the understanding of which new model of city is increasingly dominant.

Reading post-war Sarajevo as text

Author: Gruia Badescu (University of Cambridge)  email
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Long Abstract

The city, according to Walter Benjamin, is a "linguistic cosmos" of signs and symbols. My paper explores a reading of the city of Sarajevo as text, analyzing the way realities, dreams, aspirations and heterotopias are embedded in both visual cues and in narratives of Sarajevans. The paper distinguishes between the syntactic transformations of the post-war city (ie. architectural reconstruction) and the semantic changes (ie. meanings of places, practices of everyday life). The syntax of postwar Sarajevo is analyzed through exploring how destruction and reconstruction modified the urban text, similar to erasing and rewriting. Second, the perspective of the outsider-flâneur is used to read the signs inscribed in the city. In a third part, the paper examines lived experiences of Sarajevans. Several processes come to the foreground, including the segregation of experiences, yet an increasing blurring of boundaries, based on economic needs of individuals.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.