Timișoara for Social Scientists

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Friday, November 29th

Timisoara will be European Capital of Culture in 2021, one of the reasons why the city is undergoing quite the cultural renaissance: concerts, festivals and exhibitions have seen an impressive increase in recent years. Couple this with spectacular architecture, generous parks and a modern vibe and you get a city not to be missed.

Our tour offers generous glimpses of Timisoara’s historical heritage and contemporary feel. Lush boulevards and recently rejuvenated central public squares are all part of our itinerary. What makes our tour stand out are the extra layers of nuance we shall add to the conventional narratives. Contrasts, contradictions and paradoxes are an interesting way to paint a clearer picture of past and present Timisoara. We shall thus also include the roads less travelled but just as exciting as the highroad: impressive palaces built during the Austro-Hungarian empire but also apartment blocks built during the communist regime; vibrant parks and ultra-modern glass buildings but also a farmer’s market; sculptures dedicated to the heroes of the Romanian anti-communist Revolution but also post-modern sculptures and street art. Through this interplay of lights and shadows, we can contemplate on some of the following political curiosities:

  • Why is there a proliferation of casinos, pharmacies and banks throughout the city?
  • Why Timisoara’s Ottoman past is orientalised
  • How Timisoara’s place in the Austro-
  • Hungarian empire sometimes fuels intolerance
  • How income inequality gentrifies neighbourhoods
  • How the neoliberalization of space births giant billboards and hipster cafes
  • How patriotism shapes street naming and statue placement,
  • How the current local administration justifies the prioritisation of cars over alternative means of transport

We believe that Timisoara can be best understood precisely through its diversity: people, places and experiences. By including different aspects of daily life in our tour makes for a brief but interesting and fun way of seeing just how special this city once nicknamed Little Vienna really is.

Vlad Botgros has a Ph.D. in political science, with a thesis on the discursive dynamics and tactics at the core of Romanian political antagonisms from the early 90’s until today. He has a research interest in early 90’s political moods, having previously written about far-right extremism, mysticism and neoliberalism as echoed in the pages of two local Timisoara newspapers in the 90’s.

Vlad Botgros

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