Conflict + Modernity: Case Study ZAGREB

This course is concerned with understanding the modalities of modernization and urban transformation in the context of cities in a region of Central Europe that has undergone enormous political, social, and cultural changes and dislocations since the beginning of the 20th century.The focus of the seminar is the city of Zagreb – a city which is currently in transition (on the edge of the EU, and preparing to enter it within the next decade) – and which underwent huge transitions with radically shifting geopolitical boundaries over the last 100 years. Zagreb started the 20th century as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; for a brief period between the two World Wars it was part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (after 1929, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia); after WWII it was in Communist Yugoslavia; since 1992 Zagreb has been the capital of the independent state of Croatia.Zagreb is a city with a complicated and multilayered history. Culturally, it is defined by its strategic position in Europe as a crossroads and a point of intersection and overlap between cultures and identities: east and west; Christianity and Islam; Greek and Roman Catholicism; north and south; Slavic and Mediterranean cultures. The city itself has been multi-ethnic and multi-national for centuries, and therefore, host to multiple and (often violently) conflicting identities and agendas. Without a stable identity of its own, Zagreb has continuously negotiated identities, cultures, and ideologies.One of the working propositions which the course sets out to investigate is that the cultural and ideological pluralism of Zagreb is embedded in the fabric of the city itself – and that an understanding of that fabric and the urban spatial logic of Zagreb – the ways in which local and translocal identities, affiliations, economic and political scales formations have been negotiated spatially – can shed light, not only on the evolution of the modern architecture and urbanism of Zagreb itself – but also more broadly (and more importantly) on our understanding of the changing role of cities generally today, as \”the terrain of trans-nationality,\” in the expanding global economy. There is another (equally significant) problematic which the investigation of Zagreb\’s urban spatial logic brings into sharp focus: that is the fact that urban architectural modernization in Zagreb (and in Croatia as a whole) was a politically bifurcated process. Before WW II, Zagreb was an industrializing, expanding bourgeois city; its modernization in the first half of the 20th century was a function of the capitalist expansion of the economy. Modernization in the second half of the 20th century, was a product of the socialist economic system of the Communist state. Both phases of modernization and their distinctive urban architectural formations are physically manifest and legible in the organization and fabric of the city itself. Zagreb therefore provides an ideal framework for examining relationships between ideological and urban spatial formations. As such, it also allows us to fundamentally rethink concepts of public and private (in terms of space, interests, property, use, and identity); and forces us to re-examine the ideology of modernism itself, which (throughout the 20th century) was conceptually bound up with both the ideology and experience of socialism. Finally, the Zagreb case study provides a framework for reexamining conceptions of \”critical practice,\” of \”resistence,\” and \”dissidence.\” What do these concepts mean in the context of leftist political regimes? What do \”Left\” and \”Right\” signify in that context or today, after its dissolution?Aside from its historical concerns, the seminar is also concerned with exploring modes of urban spatial analysis; with developing multidisciplinary methodologies and models of description and visualization – that can be applied to other contexts – for understand