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Mirek Dymitrow

Postdoctoral fellow

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Cultural atavism in the face of an environmental disaster : Skopje 2014 in the limelight


  • Mirek Dymitrow

Summary, in English

Great social challenges of today, and the conflicts arising therefrom, no longer come one by one. What makes them great is their entanglement in one other and across multiple levels. Similarly, spatial conflicts seldom arise in isolation, but result from simmering tensions that may manifest in a more insidious fashion, namely by appealing to intangible values. This chapter looks into one such spatial project in Skopje, which by its scope and content transpires as less spatial than ideological, yet which nonetheless affects space in a negative way. How could Skopje, a vibrant Balkan city spared by the Yugoslav Wars, turns into the world’s most polluted city and a “megalomaniac Disneyland” on the canvas of geopolitical disrepute, staggering corruption and ethnic tensions? To explain the situation, this chapter makes use of the concept of cultural atavism. Its preposition is that when a population’s fundamental existential values are threatened, co-existent tame problems may be left behind in pursuit of primordial yet abstract values. Such dispersion of priorities, however, may create a great social challenge in itself. In Skopje, this was characterised by a pursuit of identity politics in the face of much more tangible problems, like an impending environmental disaster.


  • Department of Human Geography

Publishing year







Urban Book Series

Document type

Book chapter


Springer Science and Business Media B.V.


  • Human Geography


  • Cultural atavism
  • Great social challenge
  • Identity politics
  • Skopje 2014
  • Spatial conflict
  • Wicked problem




  • ISSN: 2365-757X
  • ISSN: 2365-7588