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Meeting-places of Transformation : Urban Identity, Spatial Representations and Local Politics in St Petersburg, Russia

by Borén, Thomas

Abstract (Summary)
This study develops a model for understanding spatial change and the construction of space as a meeting-place, and then employs it in order to show an otherwise little-known picture of (sub-)urban Russia and its transformation from Soviet times to today. The model is based on time-geographic ideas of time-space as a limited resource in which forces of various kinds struggle for access and form space in interaction with each other. Drawing on cultural semiotics and the concepts of lifeworld and system, the study highlights the social side of these space-forming forces. Based on a long-term fieldwork (participant observation) in Ligovo/Uritsk, a high-rise residential district developed around 1970 and situated on the outskirts of Sankt-Peterburg (St Petersburg), the empirical material concerns processes of urban identity, spatial representations and local politics. The study explicates three codes used to form the image of the city that all relate to its pre-Revolutionary history, two textual strategies of juxtaposition in creating the genius loci of a place, and a discussion of what I call Soviet "stiff landscape" in relation to Soviet mental and ordinary maps of the urban landscape. Moreover, the study shows that the newly implemented self-governing municipalities have not realised their potential as political actors in forming local space, which raises questions on the democratisation of urban space. Finally, the study argues that the model that guides the research is a tool that facilitates the application of the world-view of time-geography and the epistemology of the landscape of courses in concrete research. The study ends with an attempt to generalise spatial change in four types.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Stockholms universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Earth sciences; Other earth sciences; Time-space; lifeworld; H├Ągerstrand; Habermas; Lotman; participant observation; post-Soviet transformation; time-geography; cultural geography; cultural semiotics; urban studies; everyday life; Soviet cartography; local self-government; Ligovo; Uritsk; Krasnosel'skii raion.

ISBN:91-7155-042-9

Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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