First International Conference of Young Urban Researchers (FICYUrb)
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Vincent Calay

Imagining Brussels as "the Capital of Europe"

Vincent Calay
IGEAT Université Libre de Belgique (ULB)

Reinoud Magosse
Cosmopolis City, Culture & Society Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)

     Full text: Paper removed by author
     Last modified: May 22, 2007
     Presentation date: 06/12/2007 4:30 PM in ISCTE-II C103
     (View Schedule)

The main aim of this paper is to unravel the processes of place construction currently at work in Brussels by analyzing the imaginaries referring to the city’s European function. The idea is that the de-construction of these imaginaries will allow us to shed light on the power relations and actors working in the background. A critical discourse analysis on a selection of articles in the European written press and on a selection of leading tourist guides on the matter, in combination with an analysis of the recent local initiatives that tried to narrate Brussels as “the capital of Europe”, enables us to look as well at the processes that led to the emergence of the existing dominant image of “Brussels has decided”, as at the initiatives that aim to counter this negative image. The extensive empirical evidence provided, shows how the “euroscapes” in Brussels -and with it both, the image of city and of the EU, are constructed by anonymous and non-accountable “imagineers”: architects, real estate agents, local and global entrepreneurs such as the publishers of postcards, tourist guides and journalists. If we assume that “city imaging” and “communication” practices have become more central than ever before in urban politics, and that as such they increasingly influence the real lives in these cities, we conclude that important parts of the current day decision-making processes are not longer submitted to public debate. The paper ends with a proposal for developing a “politics of the imaginary for Brussels”.

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