How Skopje’s Urban Makeover Alienated Locals

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How Skopje’s Urban Makeover Alienated Locals

How Skopje’s Urban Makeover Alienated Locals

Most people agree that the plan is in bad taste and a complete farce, but what impact is Skopje’s postmodern transformation having on its citizens?

Under the auspices of “Skopje 2014”, a curious proliferation of statues, monuments and neo-classical and baroque architecture have lately begun popping up across Macedonia’s capital. While the expressed aim of this multi-million Euro project was to attract international investment and tourism to Skopje its international reception gives a measure of the overall cost of this project to the city’s reputation.

The Guardian, for instance, ran with How Skopje became Europe’s new capital of kitsch, while CNN asked Is Macedonia’s capital being turned into a theme park? Indeed, looking at the coverage it appears to have been difficult to avoid well-worn comparisons to Disneyland or Las Vegas.

The government’s ambition has been to create a new national identity by rewriting history. Like so many other post-socialist cities, Skopje’s recent transformation looks to a distant past, deploying collective amnesia to skip over more recent troubles. The somewhat laughable statue of Alexander the Great, a shameless attempt to claim ownership over the legacy of ancient Macedonia, is perhaps the most obvious example. This postmodern fantasy may be amusing to the rest of Europe, but it is hard to see what relation Skopje 2014 has to the often harsh realities of everyday life in Skopje. […]

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