Transformations of a Post-socialist City: the Case Study of Zagreb
Nevena Škrbić Alempijević
(University of Zagreb)
Paper short abstract:
The author analyses negotiations and tensions triggered by the co-existence of different layers in the city centre of Zagreb. She observes simultaneous tendencies to produce the imagery of a glorious urban past on the one hand, and to materialize a vision of 'the city of tomorrow' on the other.
Paper long abstract:
This paper examines negotiations and tensions triggered by the co-existence of different architectural layers in the cityscape. It discusses the selection processes through which materiality of a certain period becomes visible and safeguarded as the city's historical heritage, whereas other strata remain hidden, forgotten or destroyed. The author approaches urban conservation strategies as mechanisms of the politics of remembrance, that is, as ways of constructing an adequate and representative past. She also observes recent interventions in historic zones, which add to the temporal multilayeredness of cities. Such transformations often bring tokens of modernity and the imagery of 'the city of tomorrow' to the foreground. The author explores those issues on the example of the city centre of Zagreb, Croatia's capital. She focuses on revitalization policies and contemporary uses of the 19th-century architecture, which is treated as the core of the protected area of Zagreb Lower Town. She also analyses the current treatment and ambivalent attitudes towards the socialist legacy in the post-socialist city. The final stage of urban transformations in focus is connected to the 21st-century projects, based on cutting-edge architectural concepts and private investments. Such spatial reconfiguration and resemantization is intertwined with city branding that shapes, highlights and displays the cosmopolitan, open, Central European character of Zagreb and the state in general. The paper is based on ethnographic research that has encompassed diverse agents involved in the production and construction of space, such as policy-makers, architects, cultural heritage experts, organizers of public events and citizens of Zagreb.
Encounters between past and future: ethnographic approaches on urban renovation, redevelopment, gentrification and heritagization