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East, rivista internazionale di geopolitica
European Regional Master's Degree in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe
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Sarajevo in the Wilderness of Post-Socialist Transition: the Neoliberal Urban Transformation of the City

by: Cecilia Borrini
ISBN: 978-88-96951-23-1


The topic of this thesis is the post-war and post-socialist urban development of the City of Sarajevo. After four years of a draining siege in the mid-1990s, Sarajevo underwent a reconstruction sponsored mainly by international donations and run by the international community in a fragmented political panorama constituted of political parties divided along ethnic lines. The reconstruction phase is today followed by a neoliberal urban development phase which is the specific object of my analysis. Among all the political issues widely explored by the academia, urban planning and development in Bosnia and Herzegovina received a relatively modest interest, which makes this topic highly relevant to investigate. Urban development of Sarajevo today is chaotic, with an unregulated legal framework and subjected to private interest to the detriment of public spaces. Political management of its development is characterized by instability resulting from intertwining private interests supported by a colluding political élite, eager to profit from urban projects planned in the city. The incomplete legal framework has allowed the definition of a general urban chaos dominated by the symbolic architecture of this phase, the shopping mall. On the other side, the urban activist scene is in formation and society is slowly rising up against the urban political mismanagement.



Sarajevo, urban development, right to the city, public spaces, urban activis

Table of contents

1. Cities: Key Sites for the Economic Growth and Contestation
1.1 A Lefebvrian Approach to the City: the Urban Claim for the Right to the City
1.2 The Current Phase of Capitalism: Neoliberalism and Globalization
1.3 The Contemporary Revival of the Right to the City: A Claim against Neoliberalism
2. Urban development trends in Central and South Eastern Europe
2.1 The Post-Socialist City and its Peculiarity
2.2 Capital Cities and Private Investments in the Balkans: Belgrade and Zagreb, Iconic Examples of a New Urban Phase
3. A Case of Post-Socialist and Post-Conflict City: Sarajevo and its Contested Urban Development
3.1 A General View on the Spatial Planning Legal Framework
3.2 The Urban Neoliberal Phase and its Trend in Malls Construction
3.3 An Analysis of the Chaotic Urban Scenario of Sarajevo
4. Public Participation and Urban Local Activism in Sarajevo
4.1 Citizens’ Participation in the Urban Planning Decision-Making Process
4.2 Urban Grassroots Initiatives in the City of Sarajevo
4.3 An Analysis on the Activist Scenario

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