Accepted paper:

Subsidized housing comfort: hopefulness and anxieties shaped by thermal rehabilitation of buildings

Authors:

Bogdan Iancu (National School of Political Studies and Public Administration Bucharest / Museum of Romanian Peasant )

Paper short abstract:

The goal of this paper is to illustrate the setup of the subsidized thermal rehabilitation as a pedagogical tool and discrepant cultural object, as it embodies a desirable housing modernity but also the way in which it becomes a source of disquiet in Romanian homes.

Paper long abstract:

In the last decade, the urban landscape of Bucharest resembles that of a city after an earthquake or a bombardment: hundreds of construction sites cover the districts, and old windows are taken down and left for a while leaning against the fences around the buildings because of conspicuous thermal rehabilitation of buildings. The residential experience in (subsidized) insulated apartments becomes the desired standard for most of the residents of Bucharest and is the object that generated anxieties for those who are excluded and are self-defined as "second-rank citizens". It is not only a matter of deprivation of revitalized infrastructure but also one of captivity in a grey horizon, associated to precariousness of socialism era. The thermal rehabilitation and the double-glazing closure of balconies, envisaged by the neoliberal policies of the postsocialist state, paradoxically fulfills the informal and illegal rehabilitation projects of socialist flats. A consequence of these policies and regulations is that a codified cultural element, such as comfort, has become standardized inside the narrow and un-negotiated limits of the thermal insulation process. Finally, as my ethnographic data will illustrate, because of ignoring the socialist legacy of the infrastructures, more than producing new energy consumers throughout recent politics of rehabilitation based on double-glazing balconies and windows a reluctant consumer of devices of comfort is being shaped. The goal of this paper is to illustrate the setup of the subsidized thermal rehabilitation as a pedagogical tool and discrepant cultural object, as it becomes a source of disquiet in Romanian homes.

panel P060
The anthropology of infrastructure: ordering people, places, and imaginaries