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ISR-Sonderpublikation: Reading the City


Stephanie Herold, Benjamin Langer, Julia Lechler (Hrsg.):

Reading the City
Urban Space and Memory in Skopje 

Berlin 2010, 153 Seiten
ISBN 978-3-7983-2129-8
Euro 12,90

Mazedonien, Erinnerungsorte, Stadtraum, Identität, kulturelles Gedächtnis


The publication presents the results of the international project “Reading the city: Urban space and memory” which took place in Skopje in May 2009 and led to two exhibitions in Skopje and Berlin in May and July 2009. The project followed the hypothesis that every historical, political, and social development and trend is mirrored in the city’s built environment. Cities, accordingly, consist of a multitude of layers of narratives and thus become an image of individual and collective memory. Due to the intimate relationship between memory and identity, the city itself and its urban fabric play an important role in the shaping of collective identities. The city, its urban spaces and architectural shape, are subject of politics of identity and memory, its “sites of memory” and the cityscape turn into “symbolic capital”. This is best reflected in places where breaks have occurred and in consequence different memory constructs clash, leading to open controversies. In Macedonia, which was established as a national state in 1991, this is currently the case. Since its foundation, the state has been facing various problems. Beside the internal conflicts and tensions between the Macedonian and Albanian population that escalated in 2001, Macedonia faces difficult relations with its neighbouring countries. Furthermore it is still in the process of shaping its own national and cultural identity.
Macedonia’s capital Skopje clearly reflects the current political and societal developments and discourses. During the workshop it was discussed, how history is mirrored in the urban space of Skopje today, how it is perceived and constructed, and which historical periods influence the city’s current planning discourse.
The analysis focused on a physical and a symbolic level. Apart from evaluating the actual and the desired meanings of certain sites, their potential impacts were considered, particularly with regards to the different residents of the city. Therefore, the workshop did not only focus on the sites themselves, but also on their stories, which express a particular memory (or create it). This approach is especially useful if one assumes that there is no single, universally valid interpretation but that different groups interpret history differently and consequently construct different memories. Particularly with regards to a city such as Skopje, with its culturally very heterogeneous population, such an approach is essential.  




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