Members of the project presented results of their research on urban transformations of Zagreb at the international conference City-making: space, culture, and identity, Zagreb, 17-18 May, 2018.
Jasna Čapo and Petra Kelemen
Finding a niche: migrant economy in a city not promoting international migration
Zagreb and Croatia do not figure on the map of international mobilities; Croatia has traditionally been an emigration country, which it remains to this day and Zagreb, though the capital city, practically does not attract foreign nationals at all nor does it include them in its development strategies. Foreign nationals’ settlement is mostly linked to partnership with a Croatian citizen, who might have himself/herself been an international migrant before deciding to settle in Zagreb. The presentation analyses foreign nationals’ economic activities in the context of local and national opportunity structures and institutional constraints on (migrant) entrepreneurship. It appears that the city does not live up to the ‘scales’ of these young/middle-aged, skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants’ from all over the world.
Queer Activism and the Transformation of the City: How LGBTIQ Community is Fghting for its Space in the City of Zagreb
According to the architect Bernand Tschumi, architecture and the organization of space are playing a significant role in the creation and limitation of personal and political freedom of citizens. Tschumi names this power of architecture ‘violence of architecture’. Space and events taking place in a particular space are influencing one another. Gill Valentine describes public spaces as the product of social forces. As much as the place has an active role in the creation and reproduction of social identities, so social identities, meanings and relations create material and symbolic spaces, notices Valentine. Furthermore, Valentine distinguishes three levels of space: the material, regulatory and performative level. In this presentation, I will try to demonstrate how these three levels of space correspond with the queer community in the city of Zagreb. First, I will describe how queer groups organize in the material spaces of the city and how the city structure is supporting their organization in material spaces. Then, I will present how queer groups use regulatory space, i.e. public policies to accomplish rights and freedoms straight citizens already have and take for granted. And finally, I will describe how queer activism is mobilizing the performative level of the space in order to transform the city of Zagreb from straight heterosexual space to the space which accepts cultural differences and citizens who live different sexual identities from the normative one.
Valentina Gulin Zrnić
Performance, Protest, Procession, and Festivals: Single Space, Multiple Publics
The presentation focuses on the public park in the center of Zagreb – Zrinjevac. It is the first planned park in the period of accelerated urbanization and modernization of Zagreb in the second half of the 19th century. The park represents ideals of the new urban class, the bourgeoisie, in terms of their architectural and art preferences, political orientation towards national ideology, as well as a new social and cultural lifestyle. All of these elements are materially and symbolically inscribed into this particular space which came under state protection as an urbanistic, cultural and natural monument in the 1960s. The paper deals with the life of/in the park in recent years. It shows contested meanings of this public space through artistic, protest, religious and festival resemantization. Each event temporary reconstructs the materiality of space, invites different publics and addresses various issues that deal with dominant political, social and cultural values (nation, difference, tolerance, democracy etc.). Four Zrinjevac scenes set out the stage for discussing the changing character of public spaces in Zagreb, actors involved in city-making, and the contemporary nature of urban citizenship.
City-making by urban gardening
The presentation consists of three ethnographic cases of urban gardening in Croatian’s capital, Zagreb and its three socioeconomic, cultural and political facets: community, governance, and sustainability. The author examines past and recent gardeners’ practices, evaluations, and discourses within a given urban space in relation to local (city) and broader (national, supranational) political discourses and agendas on urban gardening, urban planning, green activism and sustainability. Relying on the theoretical and practitioners’ approaches to urban gardening as a particular and complex process – globally addressed and mattered, but locally shaped – a detailes qualitative analysis within a given, city-contextualized framework is employed. The author argues that such an approach can extensively and structurally contribute (Prové et. al. 2016) to better understanding of potentials and difficulties of urban gardening and its globally pronounced, encouraged and claimed benefits.
The Conceptualisation of Urban Space by Blind and Visually Impaired White Cane Users
Using the methodology of in-depth interviews, the paper explores how the blind and visually impaired white cane users conceptualise urban space. The research showed that the city is conceived, even without visual mechanisms, through landmarks, paths, edges, nodes and districts, i.e. types of elements in the city image defined by Kevin Lynch. However, spatial representations of the blind are produced on the basis of spatial experience that is proximal and not distal, as was the case with Lynch. The paper discusses the elements of non-visual image of the city constructed through direct touch and by using the white cane. Drawing on Lefebvre’s stance on the interconnectedness of the body, practice and representational spaces, the paper argues that the white cane is not just an aid that facilitates mobility of the blind and helps navigate the space. As a part of the practico-sensory totality of the body it also influences the ways in which the city is experienced and conceived.
Nevena Škrbić Alempijević
Creating a Square: Performances and Public Space in Zagreb
This paper discusses the role of public events and cultural practices in the making of public space. Through mechanisms of inclusion (and exclusion) attached to them, such performances give us an insight to the following issues: what makes a space public; who defines it, for whom, in which manners and for what purposes; how different agents conceive and experience public space and bring it to life. The focus is on a newly produced, centrally positioned, square in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, which has recently been named the European Square. The author observes strategies in which the attribute of ‘European’ is inscribed in the space. She analyses various performances that are staged on the square as ways to construct, affirm or question the character of the square and its diverse meanings.