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Preliminary communication

Under-Standing a City: Plaidoyer for an Iinterdisciplinary Sstudy of Zagreb's Urbanity (Summary)

Sonja Leboš orcid id ; Udruga za interdisciplinarna i interkulturalna istraživanja; Olibska 25, 10 000 Zagreb, Hrvatska

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page 57-90

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The article deals with energetic fields in the city of Zagreb. These energetic fields are made of two opposite streams, both having their impact on the city’s development: one stream is activism-oriented, the other is a neo-liberal one. While neo-liberal capital takes the possession over the city, the activist body creates demonstrative tactics of resistance. Though these tactics, accompanied by relevant artistic practices, are inquisitive and brave, and often provide the only visible alternative to the neo-liberal spatial repression, that alternative consists only in saying ‘no’ to the dominant power structure. Within these energetic fields the author is trying to open up a possibility for a new dialog among different disciplines, which would systematically work on the research of urbanity in order to produce numerous alternatives for the city’s development. The article therefore emphasizes the importance of descriptive practices which have had an immense role in rendering the city (of Zagreb), stressing especially the notion of ‘ambient’ (ambiance) as conceptualized by the art-historian Željka Čorak. While searching for more current descriptive practices, the author gives a few drafts as to how to analyze the complex historiographic work Project Zagreb, written by the historian of architecture Eve Blau and architect Ivan Rupnik. While trying to provide a generative dialogue, the article builds on, but also criticizes Blau and Rupnik’s polarization in viewing Zagreb’s cultural and political history: on one side Blau and Rupnik see a decision space, on the other identity space. The author of the article borrows this polarization and transfers it to a new context: decision space as being created by the symbiosis of contemporary architecture and repressive capital, and identity space as being created by contemporary architecture in cooperation with descriptive and participatory practices. Approaching the conclusion in which the importance of transdisciplinary urban studies has been pointed out, the author correlates the descriptive practices to Elke Krasny’s syntagm – narrative urbanism, coined to cover the field of a completely new practice, deeply anchored both in theory and practice of urban action, trying not only to voice citizenship, but also to create a new set of parameters in mapping the city.


historiographic imagination; identity space; decision space; narrative urbanism; resemantization; descriptive practices; participatory practices

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