Accepted paper:

Locating Europe in the festive city: creativity and crisis in the Square of Europe in Zagreb


Nevena Škrbić Alempijević (University of Zagreb)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses the role of feasts and other public events in city-making processes. By focusing on the Square of Europe in Zagreb, the author observes how those practices produce, transform or subvert meanings of a place. She analyses mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion from public spaces.

Paper long abstract:

The aim of this paper is to analyse ways in which feasts and similar public events can create and redefine public spaces. It deals with spatial politics and tactics of those practices, by means of which meanings are inscribed in urban locations and certain passive zones within the city are brought to life. The analysis is based on the case study related to feasts and other special events that are staged at a newly constructed, centrally positioned, square in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, which is informally called the Square of Europe. The focus is on performances designed to celebrate Croatia's accession to the European Union, which re-create and highlight the European, cosmopolitan and metropolitan dimension of the cityscape. The author observes how traditional festive practices, such as Advent events, are reinterpreted in accordance with the new identity of the place and the current social and economic context. Attention is also paid to events that are organized with the intention to subvert the dominant narrative and create a kind of crisis in the Square of Europe. The research results reveal diverse ways in which feasts can activate public space and transform it into an arena of negotiating urban identity. Insight in city-making strategies is gained by studying the branding of the city through feasts, which is aimed at achieving the city's visibility on the tourism map. On the other hand, the author explores how feasts are used to recreate the image of the city among citizens themselves.

panel Urba07
Dwelling in the festive city