European Capital of Culture in postsocialist cities: in search of Europe



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Tartu Ülikool


“European Capital of Culture” (ECoC) is an initiative of the EU, established with a purpose to promote a Pan-European culture and stimulate urban development. In this thesis, the ECOC is considered as a platform for dialogue between cities and the EU, through which meanings of Europe is produced. In the context of the growing territorialization of European identity and reinforcement of the internal East-West divide, caused by the growth of national sovereignty and illiberal movements in some countries of the CEE, the importance of cross-national zones of European identity increases. This thesis argues that through the ECoC events postsocialist cities from the CEE construct postnational spaces of European identity and provide alternative to nation states images of Central and Eastern Europe. Through the lens of poststructutalist discourse theory, the analysis shows how eight postsocialist cities with the ECoC title construct Europe in their bid books, and how they contribute to the debates about meaning of Europe, upgrading their urban identities at the level of the EU.