Semiperipheral Postcoloniality: An Eastern and Central European Transnational History of Urban and Regional Development Planning

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I submitted a paper for the “CAT-ference 2019: 8th International Urban Geographies of Post-communist States Conference” to be held in Belgrade at the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Geography during September 25–29, 2019. My paper is planned to be part of the panel entitled “The Global East in the global geopolitics of knowledge: Views from between North and South”, organized by Martin Müller (Université de Lausanne, Switzerland) and Elena Trubina (Ural Federal University, Russia).

“We never had colonies” – so goes the commonly held phrase that repetitively delinks Hungary and most of Eastern (and Central) Europe from (post)colonial history. Despite this dismissiveness, the Hungarian government’s political rhetoric of national victimisation excessively exploits colonial discourse based on a reservoir of unprocessed Eastern European colonial experiences, whilst dissecting the region from global colonial history – a history ruled by a hegemonic narrative of East-West or North-South centre-periphery dichotomies, thereby concealing or marginalising the uneasy, unfit and contradictory semiperipheral position and integration of Eastern Europe in global colonialism. This paper explores these issues of exclusive-inclusive epistemic geopolitics and strategic regionalisms in knowledge production by deconstructing inherited hegemonic and self-colonising narratives and by proposing a global historical and world-systemic postcolonial perspective to grasp the dynamics and potential of in-between semiperipheral epistemologies. The paper draws upon a demonstrative set of 20th century historical case studies to overview the various ways we may understand (post)coloniality in the global circulation of urban theory and planning knowledge, and the Eastern European context of the transnational interconnectivity and global circulation of development, urban and regional planning knowledge in post/colonial networks. By looking into these forgotten global interactions in transnational planning history, we may reassess how dependency structures and hegemonic structural shifts reorganised global knowledge networks, how these intertwined with regional development and global urbanism, and how peripheral and semiperipheral contexts were ultimately silenced by the narrative networks of the global centre.

 

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