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Fin de Millénaire Budapest: Metamorphoses of Urban Life

Judit Bodnár
Volume: 8
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Fin de Millénaire Budapest
    Book Description:

    Fin de Millénaire Budapest combines historical narratives and ethnographic accounts with quantitative evidence to create a richly detailed picture of a city subjected to the forces of great local and global change. Globalization and Community Series, volume 8

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9161-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1. Posted Socialism, Modernity, State
    (pp. 1-12)

    Time has accelerated in postsocialist Budapest. City dwellers are losing their points of reference; the cityscape’s secure signposts are disappearing at a speed not experienced before. People are learning new codes, from the overhaul of all telephone numbers to the renaming of some basic points of orientation, especially of the official kind, including the names of the municipal authorities as well as some streets. Recurring tourists from the “West” may lament the rise in prices and the number of car thefts; they are relieved nevertheless as they feel more at home than before. Their image of the world order, which...

  5. 2. Constructing Difference Western versus Non-Western, Capitalist versus Socialist Urban Logic
    (pp. 13-34)

    The cities of east-central Europe have stirred little sentiment in the history of urban studies. They attracted some attention when they became socialist, but their debut on the theoretical stages of urban sociology was somewhat feeble even then. A certain conceptual uneasiness has lingered around them ever since because their simultaneously east-central Europeanandsocialist character made it impossible to disentangle the two. Their differences from “Western” models were widely noted, and this begged for some explanation; their similarities tended to be overlooked or belittled. Difference was explained mainly by reference either to state socialism or to peculiar patterns of...

  6. 3. “He That Hath to Him Shall Be Given” Inequalities of Housing Privatization
    (pp. 35-58)

    On September 15, 1993, Mr. K. became the happy owner of a small villa in the Buda hills. Just three years earlier he had risked a sum that would have bought him a new stereo and put a down payment on the inner-city apartment he had rented from the district government for some thirty years. As the new owner, he immediately let it to a multinational corporation that was establishing its first office in east-central Europe. And with the rent payments in hard currency, he was able to purchase the villa.

    Mrs. J., widow of a foundryman and former tenant,...

  7. 4. Inner City Doubly Renewed Global Phenomenon, Local Accents
    (pp. 59-102)

    Postsocialist Budapest is undergoing a very selective renewal. The inner city is being “revived,” as analysts and investors say, equating life with the movement of capital. Some see “gentrification in the inner city... proceeding along easily recognizable Western lines” (Kovács, 1990: 118). Other areas are rapidly deteriorating, creating striking contrasts sometimes in tight spaces. This is a new phase of uneven development on the urban scale. “Unlike that in London or New York prior to the 1970s, Budapest gentrification did not begin as a largely isolated process in the housing market, but came fully fledged in the arteries of global...

  8. 5. Assembling the Square Social Transformation in Public Space and Broken Mirage of the Second Economy
    (pp. 103-128)

    In early December 1994, in the Hungarian weeklyMagyar Narancs, a new category appeared on the “Page of Records”—a sophisticated guide to the “best” places and services in Budapest: “The Most Unsightly Square in Europe.”¹ The award went to Budapest’s Moszkva tér (Moscow Square). No other contender for this title has yet been found. On the last pages of his monograph on the current architectural transformation of Budapest, art and media critic Péter György reveals in parentheses how his book was inspired by the sight of this area: “I have been crossing the square every day for ten years,...

  9. 6. Globalizing Art and Consumption Art Movies and Shopping Malls
    (pp. 129-156)

    In November 1996, two items of cultural news stirred public opinion among Budapest’s educated circles. An announcement of plans for the restructuring of Budapest’s extremely successful and well-liked art movie theater network, in operation for six years at that time, came after several months of bitterness and resentment—a process seen by many as the beginning of the precipitous decline of the institution of art film distribution in Budapest. All this curiously coincided with the news that Budapest’s first big shopping and entertainment center, the million-dollar, paradoxically named Pole Center opened on the outskirts of the city (see Figures 6.1...

  10. 7. Urban Texture Unraveling Fragmentation of the City
    (pp. 157-182)

    Mike Davis (1992a) connects his analysis of urban change in contemporary Los Angeles to my topic by observing that “as the walls have come down in eastern Europe, they are being erected all over Los Angeles” (228). True to a local tradition, he gives a noir account of how public space is extinguished, militarized, privatized, or semiprivatized in L.A.

    For Charles Jencks (1993), who also writes about L.A., the recent vogue of “wallification” reveals ambiguity, sensuality, and playfulness as buildings and urban villages turn inward in “response to a hostile, polluted environment” (8). Jencks celebrates contemporary L.A. as it is...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 183-188)

    In his book on central Europe, in which he uses the river Danube as the poetic focus, Italian essayist Claudio Magris (1989) writes about fin de siècle Budapest:

    The enterprising new middle-class, it has been said, wished to build

    itself a heraldic past. It wished to disguise the feverish metamor-

    phosis and tumultuous industrial expansion of the city—which led

    to the Seventh District being called Chicago—behind an appear-

    ance of frothy lightness, and to flaunt Magyar culture at all cost,

    and the more so since capitalist development was tearing its tradi-

    tions up by the root. (262-63)


  12. Appendix Models of Housing Privatization
    (pp. 189-194)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 195-206)
  14. Works Cited
    (pp. 207-218)
  15. Index
    (pp. 219-222)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-223)