Publication details

Nostalgic reconstruction and historical preservation: two regimes of post-communist urban memory



Year of publication 2014
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description Conventional studies in post-communist urban memory all too often focus on capital cities and the memory work of museums, monuments and memorials. Contrary to this trend, the proposed paper turns attention to past oriented urban/architectural reconstructions of peripheral cities taking place in Central Eastern Europe since the early 1990s. It shows how the intensified competition among cities – triggered, e.g., by the booming tourist industry or the race for the status of the European Cultural Capital (an EU project, from which the capital cities are excluded) – brings about a heightened reflexivity to and re-construction of a specific historical legacy of peripheral cities, and how this process transforms and sometimes complicates the picture of a shared national past. It argues that while the capital cities readily take on the task of representing national traumas or triumphs, the peripheral cities have more often built their identities or images by architecturally echoing nostalgic pasts, exploiting less dramatic and therefore sometimes more appealing narratives of nationalization and modernization. The thesis is in detail illustrated on Moravian cases of urban revitalization of Brno’s functionalist heritage and Ostrava’s early industrialism, while tentative comparisons are made with similar center-periphery differences in the case of Germany and Hungary. The distinction and inter-play between the imperative of preservation of historical heritage and multiple nostalgic narratives – general respect to the past and cultural re-connection with variously imagined pasts – provides an important conceptual background to the argument.
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