Post-Communist Urban Identity Hunt: Myths and Landscape Narrations of Łódź, Poland

    • Nice November 2018
    • Presentation speakers
      • Mariusz Czepczyński, Gdańsk University, Poland


    Political and economic transformations are always followed by relevant landscapes and identities. Process of de- and re-construction of urban spaces has been enhanced and facilitated by its narrative discourses. Urban identity is constructed by various texts inscribed into landscape on social, economic and, above all, semiotic spheres of urban activities. Stories, novels, films, books, inscriptions and papers, build the immaterial meaning of the material landscape; construct the significant urban semiosphere, fundamental for local identity construction. Łódź, populated by c. 700,000 is an important regional centre located in central Poland. The city arose in the 19th century as a dynamic textile industry agglomeration, and after the WW2 new identity was built upon the urban labour and revolutionary traditions. After the fall of the state communism in 1989, the socialist past and its stories had been by and large forgotten and disappeared from the public discourse. The notion of a nineteenth century multicultural ‘Golden Age’ of the city rose as a major identity formation. The most recent identity turn is based on a future oriented interpretation of the past, related to young culture and creative industries, incorporating number of the communist era cultural achievements, while the bourgeois heritage myths are being somehow marginalised. The research is based on the analysis of a variety of media products, from the communist era, the early 1990s and most recent as part of attempts to create a new identity for the city, produced by a range of actors concerned with the economic, political and socio-cultural transformation of the city over that period.