One comment on “Geografia mentală a protestelor – De ce Piața Universității?

  1. Great analysis Cristian! I agree with your arguments. I’d also suggest that Piata Universitatii is a symbolic space (even a ‘sacred’ space). In particular it is a space of ‘resistance’. It was a place of courageous resistance on the first night of the Romanian Revolution and of course in the first half of 1990. We can argue that urban spaces are ‘written’ (inscribed) with particular meanings; they become spaces that embody particular ways of thinking and ways of behaviour. Ever since December 1989 the square has become associated with resistance to power, to the ruling regime. It’s become a place to protest against whoever is in power. It’s particularly associated with anti-communist resistance. What’s interesting is that ‘Revolution Square’ has never shared these meanings, despite official efforts to promote it as the cradle of anti-communist resistance and the birthplace of a ‘new’ Romania.

    More broadly, Piata Universitatii has become a place of expression. I agree with Antonovici (‘Piaţa Universităţii – loc memorial?’ Sfera Politicii, 17 2009, 94-99) that the square is a place where Bucharesters feel they can express themselves freely. In addition to being a place of resistance it’s also a place of joy, celebration and excitement. I can remember when Romania were playing England at football in Euro 2000. I was watching the match on a big screen in Piata Revolutiei (I was supporting Romania!). When the match ended with Romania the winners everybody headed out of Piata Revolutiei towards Piata Univeritatii to celebrate.

    I was thinking about your argument. Does centrality matter? Does the presence of students as a social motor matter? Initially I thought not, but then I changed my mind. I doubt that a peripheral square could ever have the same “resonance” as piata universitatii. I guess it’s a fortunate coincidence that the square is located by the university but the presence of so many students adds to the significance of the location. I think it indicates how the meaning of particular urban spaces is “contingent” (that is, dependent on all sorts of other factors). For me, the most significant thing is the difference between Piata Revolutiei and Piata Universitatii – one is always empty and static, the other is vibrant and dynamic.

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