From Archeological Remains to Hyperreal Theme Park: the Castle of Yancheng in China

Li Xinyu

Hyperreal Yancheng

The paper investigates the relationship between consumerism, nationalism, and urban design in China today. The Yancheng Castle theme park is used as a case study. The castle was built in the Spring and Autumn period, about 2500 years ago. Today only three moats exist, corresponding to the three circles of walls which protected this military fortress in ancient times. Around these archeological remains a theme park has been developed, creating new fortifications and buildings with traditional materials and construction techniques. A range of activities and shows are held in the park, including water battles and earth battles.

The first section provides a theoretical framework to the case study. The different attitude towards the past in China and in the West is highlighted. Umberto Eco’s notion of hyperreality is then introduced, relating it to Benedict Anderson’s idea of the nation as an imagined community. We argue that the production of hyperreal urban spaces is as a way to promote nationalism through urban design in an increasingly consumerist society. The second section focuses on Yancheng Castle case study. The conclusive section provides a critical reading of this architectural/cultural trend, relating it to the ‘need of escape’ from current living conditions in contemporary Chinese cities.

Getting linked: Burgas, the New Silk Road, and the Fight for Identity

Mariya Krastanova

Getting Linked Bargas

Eastern European countries are often branded as developing countries due to their recent rapid political changes. In Bulgaria, in particular, the switch to democracy was a crucial point in its development. Opinions on its merits are polarized. Starting from scratch, in the context of a rapidly evolving economy in a globalized world, is giving an opportunity to follow the successful examples of others, but it is also setting a much higher bar – one on a metropolitan scale. Burgas is one of the biggest and most rapidly developing cities in Bulgaria and has the advantages of its history, connectivity, and tourism, but it is also threatened by an excessively strong dream for a utopia.

This paper is following Burgas’ recent transformation and its woes, by comparing them to extreme examples from history. London, New York, and Tokyo are objects of this research, as three of the leading cities in the world. The additional example of Astana (Azerbaijan) is considered, which represents more recent drastic changes and the phenomenon of Dubaization. Taking into account such examples of serious political changes through the years permits us to objectively evaluate the efficiency of the strategic plan of young cities, such as Burgas.

The first section is introducing the historical framework of Bulgaria during the fall of the Soviet Union, while the second delves in the history of Burgas in particular. Following the historical cases in the third section and observing the recent politics in the Municipality of Burgas, we can comment on the probable upcoming events in Burgas’ urban development.

The paper aims to synthesize the strategies of a city with ambitious goals in its development. It is observing the plans and their effects on the urban spaces and it tries to elucidate the criteria for future actions.

The Status of Women in Urban Space in Contemporary Iran: a Literature Review

Behnam Hajisaghati


The paper aims at investigating the relationship between women and public space in Iranian society, and at reconstructing the evolution of this relationship from the 1979 Islamic Revolution until today. Islamization and globalization are seen as two opposite forces which influence such relationship in different directions. A review of the literature written on such topic in the last fifteen years is presented here. The first section of the paper provides a historical framework on the role of women in Iranian society from the Qajar era until today. A legal framework on gender inequalities in Iran is then presented, with a particular focus on the role of women in the urban planning arena. Literature is then mapped according to research methods being employed, and to scholars’ theoretical backgrounds. Significantly different approaches are adopted by scholars working in Iran, and scholars working elsewhere. The conclusive section synthesizes the main research findings, arguing that significant inequalities between genders still exist today in the usage of urban space in Iranian cities, and discussing possible future research paths.

Aftghan Immigrants in Iraninan Cities

Atefe Farhangian

I Am Also an Afghan

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–89) caused the migration of some 2.6 million Afghans into Iran. Since then they have been spread out through different cities. Tehran, the capital of Iran, and its provinces are the main destination. The goal of the paper is that of providing a general overview on the relationship between Afghan immigrants and urban space in Iranian cities. The first section traces the history of Afghan immigration in Iranian cities from the Nineteenth Century until today. The second focuses on the way Afghan immigration is regulated in State legislation. The third reconstructs the way Afghan immigrants are depicted in movies and on the media. The conclusive section investigates the relationship between Afghan immigrants and urban space in Teheran.

National Identity and Globalization in Post-Soviet Architecture in Azerbaijan

Parviz Polukhzada

Identity and Globalization Baku

The paper investigates the way architecture has been used in Azerbaijan to reshape post-soviet urban and national identities after the fall of the Soviet Union, and to link Azerbaijani cities to the global networks of capital and tourism. According to Benedict Anderson nations are imagined communities, where the past is being reinvented and narrated in order to accomplish political goals. Architecture clearly plays an important role in this process, providing the physical setting of such narrations. However, both nationalistic discourses and their architectural manifestations are products of their age: in the case of post-soviet Azerbaijan they a very recent products, in which the nationalistic discourse is linked to hyperreal fake urban spaces.

The first section the paper reconstructs the discourse on architecture and identity in Azerbaijan and in Baku, after the fall of the Soviet Union. The second section focuses on Azerbaijani national identity. The third section applies Anderson’s theory on imagined communities, and Baudrillard’s concept of hyperreality to the interpretation of some recent urban and architectural developments in Baku and in other Azerbaijan cities. The conclusive section focuses on the urban and social impacts of such developments, which are perceived as distant from Azerbaijan society’s most urgent needs.

Cross-Cultural Dialogue in Urban Space: the Turkish Neighborhood of Kreuzberg, Berlin

Uzeyir Gasimov

Kreuzberg and Religion

The paper developes a case study on the ethnic neighborhood of Kreuzberg, Berlin. This predominantly Turkish neighborhood, originally located in the very periphery of West Berlin along the Berling wall, is today in a very central location, and is particularly appreciated by students and by younger generations. The first section of the paper draws a picture on Turkish immigration in post-war Germany. The second, reconstructs the perception of turkish immigrants on media and in common people. The third draws a compact history of the neighborhood, from the construction of the Berlin Wall until today. The third focuses on the perception of Kreuzberg on media and in younger generations, highlighting the main features which are mostly appreciated by its external users. In the conclusive section we argue that in a time of increasing globalization and homegeneization Kreuzberg is a positive example of integration and diversity, integration without loss of identity.