This article looks at the representation of an Athenian avenue as it appears in a contemporary Greek short story, in an attempt to trace the profile of the place as an ultimately modern space called into question, however, by transgressions. The story ‘I Think That Syngrou Avenue Looks Like Me’ by Manos Kontoleon describes the unique relationship developed between the writer and the high-speed avenue that connects the centre of Athens with its coastline: initiated by and experienced via an embodied approach to space, this relationship allows the writer to identify himself with a particular part of the city. The discussion of Kontoleon’s portrayal of Syngrou Avenue focuses on the relationship between space and subjective experience, a relationship that has been a subject of investigation in modern European art and architectural theory over the past century. The paper specifically draws on psychoanalytic and phenomenological theories, which reflect this particular sensibility towards modern space, aiming in this way to contribute further to the discussion of European cityscapes and urban mindscapes.
Building on the current European-wide debate on strategies for city marketing, and using Berlin as a case study, this article proposes two ways in which literature could successfully be used to project a city’s complex identity. The article argues that the marketing of Berlin as a tourist destination could be enhanced firstly by promoting the contemporary literary scene as part of Berlin’s cultural diversity; and secondly by using Berlin literature to convey the historically determined identity of the city. Opportunities for, and conditions attached to, the inclusion of literature in an integrated tourism concept are highlighted.
Glasgow’s year as European City of Culture in 1990 is widely perceived as an event both marking and precipitating a renaissance in perceptions of the city. As part of a project looking at the long-term legacies of 1990, including the image legacy, this paper uses cartoon depictions of Glasgow’s City of Culture experience as a tool by which to analyse what is now seen across Europe as a landmark cultural regeneration initiative. It argues that the caustic, politically incorrect genre of the cartoon articulates underlying social stereotypes that survive such initiatives and run counter to more mainstream narratives. It describes how the cartoons both enact a comic exposure of Culture City folly and articulate aspects of a city’s self-mythology and urban mindscape.
Paul Brookes has developed a reputation in the UK as an innovative place marketing specialist through his work for Bradford’s bid for the title of European Capital of Culture 2008 from 2001-2003 and for the ‘Leicester Revealed’ project initiated by Leicester Shire Promotions (2003-2006). The interview highlights the importance of flagship events in place marketing, and the huge expectations which are often placed on the process of marketing cities. Place marketing is in many cases seen as a road to salvation for cities, as a way of reinventing local economies which are in structural decline or of attempting to become successful tourist destinations, in a context of increasingly fierce global competition in the tourism market. In other cases place marketing is seen as a tool to support and develop a city’s distinctiveness, and to enhance local pride, a sense of community, cohesion, and belonging. Paul Brookes argues that managing the often unrealistic expectations of local politicians and policymakers, other stakeholders, the media and the general public is one of the key tasks for a good place marketer. With regard to this, Brookes also raises the complex issue of the democratic legitimacy of unelected place marketing agencies, which in some cases make decisions which should be subject to proper scrutiny by voters.
Symbolic buildings are defining elements of European cityscapes. Cities are often grasped and imagined through these buildings, and continue to be represented by them, even when their meanings are completely transformed. This transformation of meaning is obvious in the case of buildings with a strong political connotation. In the case of buildings that are not explicitly politically charged, it is, however, a more complex process, mobilised by different, though interwoven discourses of the city, opinions, wishes and representations, of which only a part can be explained in the strictly defined political dimension. In this article I will demonstrate how the meaning of such distinguished symbols of Budapest as the Chain Bridge and the Elisabeth Bridge have changed over the recent decades, and how the role of the ‘symbol of the city’ has drifted from one bridge to the other, according to the actual political and social context.
The urban anthropologist Franco La Cecla refers to the Socratean warning against ‘taking yourself with you’ on your travels to strange lands and the danger, if we do, that we risk ‘colonising with our presence every step of the journey’ for ‘to know new places corresponds in this century with denying their difference’. This paper considers the event of encounter with the unknown city, emphasising the broader implications of the act of transition (with its etymological traces of ‘passing through’, ‘being infected’ as well as ‘going over to the enemy’). Drawing on Marc Augé’s theory of the ‘abstractly familiar non-places of supermodernity’ in antithetical conjunction with the ‘strangely familiar’ experience of the Freudian uncanny, the paper analyses what is involved for the identity of the subject in the suspended process of de-/re-orientation.
In our age of fragmentation it is quite an uncommon idea – perhaps even one out of step with the spirit of the times – to think of the gestalt of something. Indeed, the idea of gestalt refers to the very opposite of fragmentation, the supposed sign of our times: namely to the interconnectedness of phenomena. Nevertheless this essay suggests that we think of the urban imaginary as the mental gestalt of the city. According to the founder of gestalt theory, Max Wertheimer, the gestalt is an organised unity where the part processes are determined by the nature of the whole. Conversely the whole must already be revealed in the part. The basic theme of a city’s imaginary – product of the historically formative economic sector – is our case in point.
In studying the exemplary case of Malmö, this paper is concerned with the process of change typical of that of many European cities, in which high-tech and knowledge-intensive activities are replacing the old, traditional industrial structure. It has been claimed that what is happening to this second-tier city is nothing but a ‘gigantic social experiment’ attempted by local policy-makers through the conscious implementation of a series of infrastructural and community development programmes. However, this paper argues that this idea of a ‘re-branding by policy design’ of Malmö is somewhat misleading and that instead an ‘accidental’ form of branding may be at work in the city. By examining key infrastructural projects and the associated effects these have had on the image of the city over the past decade, the author argues that the new profile and the regional position claimed by Malmö are the result of a new and unique ‘trial and error’ form of managing identity and change.
This volume brings together a collection of essays, most of which were presented at the ‘Urban Mindscapes of Europe’ conference at De Montfort University in Leicester on 29 April 2004. At the centre of the volume is an encounter between explorations of urban mindscapes, and their application to urban policy generally, and more specifically to city marketing and tourism promotion. This introductory essay provides an overview of the concepts of ‘urban mindscape’ and ‘urban imaginary’, and of a selection of key themes emerging from the contributions to the book. It ends with a discussion of a range of issues for further research and for policy-making.