What is a European city? What makes a city ‘European’? What gives a city its European ‘feel’? These questions are intimately tied with defining the borders – and influence – of Europe. Yet, Europe has never been a clearly defined space. The history of European integration and enlargement processes is the history of subsequent region-building and border-drawing exercises.
With each enlargement, the European Union attempts to transform its borders and symbolic boundaries. Heritage is one such bordering practice: heritage-making processes and the valorization of ‘European heritage’ re/inscribe territories as European. Spain and Romania are both seen as the ‘edges’ and ‘margins’ of contemporary Europe, and are countries with alternative or ambivalent imperial histories. Spain is a place that both Orientalized and colonized and a place that has been Orientalized within Europe. Romania has undergone a series of internal colonizations by the Habsburg, Ottoman, and Tsarist Empires followed by an ambivalent relation with Soviet Russia, yet heavily involved in identity-building processes of ‘nesting orientalisms/ colonialisms’ towards its non-EU others and towards its (more) Eastern and Southern neighbors. More importantly, Spanish historiography and symbolic geographies ended up establishing Al-Andalus (Andalusia) as a ‘domestic Orient’ of Spain, while the towns of Saxon colonial settlers in the region of Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) are seen as a ‘domestic Occident’ of Romania. As such, the cities of Andalusia and Transylvania are mirror images of each other, and are useful case-studies to grasp how postcolonial and postsocialist Europe looks at/from these South-Eastern ‘margins’ and how urbanism at borders and heritage-making are performed following EU enlargement.
In her paper, Alexandra will focus on a postcolonial analysis of historical processes of urban transformation and cycles of heritagization, re-heritagization and de-heritagization of built environments in the cities of Sibiu (Romania), Córdoba and Melilla (Spain), with an emphasis on post-1939 and post-enlargement changes. As usual, we convene in OIH/BH E1.02 from 15:00 to 16:30, followed by drinks. All are welcome.