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PhD defence Milou van Hout (UvA) – 29 April 2020

Rediscovering Cityness in the Adriatic Borderland:

Imagining cultural citizenship in Rijeka and Trieste across the long twentieth century


Milou van Hout will defend her PhD dissertation on 29 April 2020, 13:00h at the University of Amsterdam. Due to the current circumstances, this dissertation won’t be defended at the Aula but will be defended online.


Since the nineteenth century, urban intellectuals, purveyors of culture, politicians, and policymakers in the Adriatic have imagined and represented urban societies as one among a number of possible paths through which their different political worlds and identities can compromise and coexist. This study concerns how a range of cultural and political actors have created their city, its histories, its material landscapes, and its imaginations. It explores how, as city-makers, they imagined and experienced Trieste’s and Rijeka’s distinct cityness—often inspired by a past of flourishing ‘cosmopolitan’ free-port cities—in relation to political turmoil and shifting borders in the wider Adriatic region over the course of the long twentieth century.


It argues that these practices of imagining a distinct sense of cityness have provided inhabitants of the Adriatic with alternative forms of belonging and strategic ways of navigating among the different political worlds they inhabit. This study critically unpacks some of the processes through which Rijeka and Trieste have been ‘cosmopolitanized’ and highlights how cultural narratives of cityness invoked new forms of urban cultural citizenship in the Adriatic borderland.


Foto: Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020, photo by Borko Vukosav.