Accepted paper:

The role of public square in the formation of public sphere: the case of Romania in early post-communist period


Codruta Liana Cuceu (Romanian Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the construction of Romanian public sphere after the break of communism. It aims at analyzing the ways in which the symbolic use of urban space and the appropriation of public squares did play a significant role in the emergence of a common political and social intentionality of the people.

Paper long abstract:

One of the particularities of Romanian communism was that in the appropriation of communist ideology, Ceausescu's totalitarian regime made use of a major deformation of the public-private split for ideological purpuses, i.e., for the proliferation of its power. Therefore, a lack of a coherent theoretical and practical approach of the public-private split is noticeable (and, in a certain way, explainable) in Romania even after 1989. At any rate, the lack of a public sphere could explain people's need to symbolically takeover of real public squares during the 1989 Romanian Revolution and afterwards. At the beginning of the 90s, the routes traversed by the masses during the Romanian Revolution in December 1989 have gained a symbolic role and have been ritually iterated, more or less spontaneously, but regularly, by the protestant masses. These public spaces and squares play the role of an agora, of an open, real, public space, claiming no conditions for attending and participating to the public sphere. By bringing into discussion two case studies, one regarding the use of public square in seeking official recognition and in recreating religious identity in the Transylvanian city of Cluj starting with 1990, and the other regarding the Romanian political opposition's symbolic use of space in Piata Universit─âtii in June 1990, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the role of urban public squares in generating discourses, redefining social interaction (Sam Beck) and for the formation of organic, natural and visible Romanian civil society after the fall of communist regime in 1989.

panel W080
Diverse and shared publics: politics of entitlement and commemoration