Urban theories in a post-socialist context

Ivan Ratkaj, Nikola Jocić


Since the collapse of the socialist system, cities in Central Eastern European countries have undergone dynamic transformation processes. Those processes have attracted noteworthy scientific attention, particularly in local academic circles, causing revived interest in urban studies in the region. However, the academic interest in former socialist cities has become the centre of discussion itself. This interest is mostly related to the validity of theories and methodologies born in the West to the study of former socialist cities. On one side, there is a cohort of academics who have uncritically embraced Western urban knowledge, a priori assuming its universal applicability. This research position is commonly related to the developmental and convergence theories, which take “correction” of the post-socialist cities and their eventual assimilation to the Western city as their model. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the post-colonial approach has developed as a stand which criticizes the alleged scientific hegemonism of the West and insists on a more cosmopolitan urban science that would take into account the experiences of cities worldwide. Simultaneously, this approach advocates for considering urban particularities and complexities, and thus this research treats post-socialist cities as distinctive, in many instances, from the cities of the West, as well as from each other. However, as both contemporary academic stands have their limits and flaws, the debate on adequate research of former socialist cities as well as on the future positions of urban science in general, is far from conclusive.

Key words: urban theory, Western knowledge, post-socialist city, post-colonial approach

© 2022 Serbian Geographical Society, Belgrade, Serbia.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Serbia.

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