Volume 10, 2019
"Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
Mihai Stelian Rusu
Winds of Toponymic Change: Mapping Street Name Changes in Postsocialist Romania
This paper examines the street name changes brought about in Romanian cities and towns during the period of postsocialist transformations. Based on a complete dataset comprising the entire urban street nomenclature existing prior to the regime change of 1989, the paper explores the geography of postsocialist toponymic change, as well as the latter’s temporal dynamic. Statistical analyses reveal major discrepancies in the scope of street name changes between Romania’s historical regions. The paper argues that one important factor that structures these regional variations is the ethnopolitics played out at the level of each locality. The analysis concludes by pointing out the instrumentality of street names as a powerful means of politicising the urban landscape, as well as their vulnerability, especially in the aftermath of significant political changes.