Habit, Memory, and the Persistence of Socialist-Era Street Names in Postsocialist Bucharest, Romania.

Light, D. and Young, C., 2014. Habit, Memory, and the Persistence of Socialist-Era Street Names in Postsocialist Bucharest, Romania. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 104 (3), 668 - 685.

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DOI: 10.1080/00045608.2014.892377

Abstract

The critical study of toponymy has paid considerable attention to the renaming of urban places following revolutionary political change. Such renaming is intended to institutionalize a new political agenda through shaping the meanings in everyday practices and landscapes. Renaming, however, might not always be successful, and this article examines this issue with reference to a market in Bucharest, Romania. Originally named Piaţa Moghioroş during the socialist era to commemorate a leading Communist Party activist, the market was renamed in the postsocialist period. Yet, more than two decades on, the original name remains in widespread everyday use. Using a mixed-method approach, we seek to advance the critical toponymies literature by exploring the persistence of the socialist-era name within everyday practice. Although many authors have highlighted the issue of popular resistance to an unpopular renaming, we find little evidence of conscious resistance, and instead we explore the importance of habit within everyday practices as an explanation, drawing on an understanding of habit derived from sociocognitive psychology. This perspective proposes that habits are stable and hard to break if the broader context in which they are situated is stable. We suggest that this explanation, rather than popular contestation, has more to offer in understanding the persistence of the toponym Piaţa Moghioroş. We thus highlight the importance of considering how the “users” of place names react to the changes of such names and create their own meanings in relation to them in ways unintended by elites.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:0004-5608
Uncontrolled Keywords:critical toponymies; everyday life; habit; memory; Romania
Subjects:UNSPECIFIED
Group:Faculty of Management
ID Code:21509
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:22 Oct 2014 15:46
Last Modified:02 Aug 2016 11:53

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