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Skopje 2014 and the (geo)politics of heritage

Authors: Henry Sivak*, Arizona State University, Daniel Pout*, Arizona State University
Topics: Urban Geography, East Europe, Europe
Keywords: Skopje 2014, Macedonia, VMRO
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

From 2008, Macedonia’s VMRO government undertook to monumentalize urban space in Skopje, the capital city. Known as ‘Skopje 2014’—when the renovations were to have been completed—the project has included the construction of giant statues of Alexander the Great & Philip II; the ‘cladding’ of brutalist-style buildings in neo-baroque exteriors; and, the acquisition of cultural symbols, from double-decker busses to pirate ships, seemingly disconnected from regional history or identity. Unsurprisingly, Skopje 2014 has faced intense scrutiny from anti-corruption activists critical of the (mis)use of public funds that the project represents, but also by urbanists and architects who see in the project an “attempt to recreate an image of a city that never existed” (Stefanovska, 2019), raising questions over ‘fabricated’ heritage and of ‘counterfeiting’ and ‘branding’ the nation (Grann, 2013). After surveying these changes to the city and the debates they’ve engendered, this paper seeks to place Skopje 2014 in its regional context. It traces how the VMRO-DPMNE government sought to mobilize an ‘antiquarian’ cultural vision of Skopje within the context of ongoing disputes over the country’s EU and NATO membership as well as the use of the name ‘Macedonia’. It also discusses the idea of heritage as a geopolitical signifier in the region.


Grann, Andrew. 2013. “Counterfeiting the Nation? Skopje 2014 and the Politics of Nation Branding in Macedonia.” Cultural Anthropology 28 (1): 161–79.

Stefanovska, Jasna, and Janez Kožlej. 2019. “Urban Planning and Transitional Development Issues: the Case of Skopje, Macedonia.” Urbani Izziv 23 (1): 91–100.

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