, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 135-144

Toponymy and the Communist city: Street names in Bucharest, 1948–;1965

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Abstract

Past studies of the Socialist/Communist city have paid only limited attention to the ways in which Communist regimes mobilised a wide variety of symbols in the urban landscape in order to legitimate and institutionalise the ideology of revolutionary socialism. This paper considers the role of street names in this process with particular reference to Bucharest, Romania during the 1948–;1965 period. When the Communist regime came to power it embarked on widespread renaming of streets as one means of both `decommemorating' the pre-socialist regime and proclaiming the agenda and ideology of the Communist state. The new street names commemorated a variety of events and personalities from the history of Romanian and Soviet Communism. The impact of street names was amplified further through practices such as multiple namings and the spatial clustering of street names of high ideological resonances. The paper argues that Bucharest's street names can be `read' as a mirror of ideological change, changing constructions of national identity, and Romania's macro-political orientation (especially its changing relations with the Soviet Union).