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Preservation of place identity through (re)interpretation of the meaning of industrial heritage

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1:30 PM, Wednesday 31 Aug 2022 (20 minutes)
According to the identity process theory (Breakwell, 1986), identity is perceived as a dynamic, social product of the interaction between memory capacity, consciousness, and organized construction. Identity can be seen as a structure, which is manifested through thoughts, actions and influences. Since the places we belong to represent personal or collective memories, their identity comes from the symbols in which we find meaning and significance. The variability of the social structure associated with a particular place is reflected in its meaning and symbolism, making them also variable categories. Constant urban development often causes very radical transformations of the physical structure, which is certainly reflected in its local identity. At the same time, due to socio-economic progress, there are changes in the structure of social groups, which according to their character are identified with a certain place. In this context, the role of industrial heritage in preserving the identity of a place is of particular interest. In a former socialist society, such as Serbia, affected by drastic socio-political transformations, civil wars and economic recession, industrial activity is gradually declining. Former industrial sites are being abandoned and devastated over time. The topic of the paper is the industrial heritage of Novi Sad, the capital of Vojvodina, today the northern region of the Republic of Serbia, and once the peripheral county of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Thanks to its centuries-old multi-ethnic environment, Novi Sad is continuously building recognizability and diversity based on its multicultural character and identity. The main goal of the research is to determine whether the revitalisation of the historic industrial district of the Great Liman, which dates back to the 1920s, has the power to strengthen the local and European identity of Novi Sad, the European Capital of Culture 2022. Bravely defying the socialist concrete towers that surround it, the former industrial district represents a collective memory through numerous untold historical narratives of intensive industrial activities, great architectural and technological achievements, as well as important personalities who shaped the city during the 20th century. Can the revitalisation of the Great Liman into a creative district preserve the inherited values and connect the symbol of the past with the needs of modern society, making the industrial heritage a generator not only of cultural but also of general social development?

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