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The Public in Search of Identity: New Symbolism in Urban Spaces. A Study of Central Squares of Balkan Capitals

  • Peter NientiedEmail author
  • Besnik Aliaj
Chapter
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Part of the EAI/Springer Innovations in Communication and Computing book series (EAISICC)

Abstract

After the collapse of the socialist systems during the early 1990s, countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have been engaged in conceiving their new identity. National identities are seen as historical constructions that are constantly being reconstituted according to a presentist agenda, that is viewing the past with a somewhat limited to present-day set of attitudes and beliefs. Building new political and cultural identities was not on top of the political agenda during the early phase of the transition but developed after institutional transitions were made. This chapter presents a study of identity formation, specifically how identity in four Western Balkan countries is expressed in significant places. The alterations of central squares of capitals, regarded as tangible expressions of national identity, have been studied in four small countries; Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro. The study focuses on how selective remembrance and active forgetting played a role in the development of main squares, how ambiguous spaces have been created with also banal practices and how the main squares can be seen in view of globalized identities and cultural hybridities. Additionally, attention is paid to the process of intervention. We also consider to what extent the developments can be seen as innovations. Our study shows that national governments have sought to create expressions of national identity in main squares, in Skopje and Tirana in a dramatic manner and in the cases of Priština and Podgorica in a more retained but still significant style. It is concluded that governments made efforts to wipe out expressions of the recent communist past, have replaced memories of the socialist past with historical and/or modern Western appearances, and have paid limited attention to minorities and public participation.

Keywords

Identity formation Post-socialist city Capitals Squares Cultural landscape 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Co-Plan Institute for Habitat DevelopmentPOLIS UniversityTiranaAlbania
  2. 2.Institute for Housing and Urban Development StudiesErasmus UniversityRotterdamNetherlands
  3. 3.Polis UniversityTiranaAlbania

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