Bucharest: Public life in protest

We are Anna and Sarah, urban planning and architecture students, looking forward to our journey to Bucharest. Our research focus is on the romanian capital, its public space and protest culture.

What we are interested in are the connections between public space and protests, demonstrations, marches etc. as one of the main uses of public space in Bucharest – if not the main, predominant one. We have already heard from Stefan Ghenciulescu that public life takes place mostly at home or in what we have started calling ‘privatised public spaces‘ like shopping malls. That was sort of the starting point for our research interest.

Our research pointed out that there are some spots in the city, where public space isn’t used on a daily basis. We think that these public spaces are often too big, monumental and politically charged to be adopted by individuals and small groups. We want to explore the meaning of those largely unused public spaces, focusing specifically on what we call spaces of power and propaganda. From what we‘ve read and again, from what Stefan has told us, we are wondering whether there‘s a continuity regarding those spaces: Once a space of power and propaganda, always a space of power and propaganda?

We know by now that many of those public spaces have been built in the Ceausescu era, with the very specific purpose to show the power of the party, but especially Ceausescu‘s power over the people and to have spaces to be able to address and control them. So this is why we have formulated the hypothesis/assumption that those spaces might not only be too big in their dimensions and too unflexible but also a reminder of the past and this is why people might be hesitant to use them. Protests, demonstrations and marches might be the only possible ways to use and (re-)appropriate those spaces due to the large number of people involved.

Another reason for the lack of use of these politically charged public spaces could also be that people have become used to living their public lives at home, at other people’s homes or in shopping malls, so that they don’t even consider using actual public spaces in the city. But why is there this vacuum of use of public space?

This is what we want to investigate – with a focus on the role and function of protests in public spaces.

Looking forward to seeing and reading you soon on our blog!

Anna & Sarah

image source: Vlad Petri – http://www.vladpetri.ro/portfolios/proteste/

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