Politics of naming and the patriarchal construction of Zagreb

Original scientific paper

Katja Vretenar ; Fakultet političkih znanosti u Zagrebu
Zlatan Krajina ; Fakultet političkih znanosti u Zagrebu

Fulltext: english, pdf (2 MB) pages 50-81 cite
Fulltext: croatian, pdf (2 MB) pages 50-81 cite

This paper investigates the ways in which gender relations are articulated through a particular communicative urban infrastructure, such as names of public spaces and public art. We argue that their selective design and distribution suggest meanings beyond functional purposes (to serve as orientation points or as national commemorative sites) and co-constitute gendered power relations. Reading the patterns of signification, formulation and positioning of names, plaques and statues in Zagreb, through our raft of statistical analysis, mapping, and ethnographic walks, we show that the urban signage of the capital of Croatia, in a time of increased debates about gender equality and identity, continues to uphold the patriarchy inherited from earlier periods of city growth, namely the late 19th/early 20th centuries and mid-20th century. Our spatial analysis concerns not only the frequency but also spatial distribution and forms of representation of women in the names of public spaces and commemorative plaques and statues. The research presented here suggests that Zagreb’s public urban signage significantly prefers men to women as actors in public space and nation’s history. We discuss our findings from the perspective of critical and constructivist approaches in cultural studies and contextualise them with reference to the ways in which contemporary urban spaces are said to be ‘mediated cities’.

City; Gender; Signifying Practices; Sign; Power

Hrčak ID: 175779