Mihai S. RUSU
Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu
E-mail personal autor:
Street Names Mercurial: Restructuring the Symbolic Space in Postwar Sibiu, 1945-1948
Abstract: In order to achieve their functional purpose – that of organizing the urban landscape and helping locating people and geographical objectives through an efficient addressing system – street names are bound to remain stable spatial landmarks. On the other hand, street names are also semiotic devices of signifying space with the political and commemorative agenda of the ruling power. This latter characteristic renders them vulnerable to successive renaming following important power-shifts and especially regime changes. What happens when the ideological imperative of politicizing the street nomenclature undermines its functional requirement of providing spatial orientation through extensive renaming? Such a tensional situation is examined in the case of postwar Sibiu between 1945 and 1948, when the city endured a thorough redefinition of its toponymy under the political regime of communist “popular democracy” in Romania. The paper quantifies the scope of toponymic revision and then evaluates the content of these street name changes in terms of three major concepts: class, ethnicity, and gender. Grounded on the results of this analysis, the paper advances the notion of “mercurial street names”. It concludes by arguing that such a concept should complement the existing metaphoricity underpinning the scholarship in place-name studies, which draw on “text”, “discourse”, and “palimpsest” to conceive of the processes of street (re)naming.
Keywords: street names, communism, toponymy, gender, ethnicity.
Citation suggestion: Rusu, Mihai. “Mercurialul denumirilor stradale: restructurările spațiului simbolic în Sibiul postbelic, 1945-1948.” Transilvania, no. 6-7 (2022): 24-34.