In 1993, the city of Antwerp was inaugurated a European Capital of Culture, following Athens, Florence, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Glasgow, Dublin and Madrid. Unlike other cities which simply sought on providing a series of cultural events, in Antwerp the intention was to challenge the use of culture as a tool for developing tourism, or for broader instrumental objectives such as urban regeneration. “A future of the past”’, Antwerp`s 12 month programme emphasized the multicultural environment of the city and intended not to glorify but rather to unravel areas of tension and threat to social cohesion posed by the rise of the nationalistic political movement. Twenty years later, within a different political and economical, but yet, multicultural context, a similar question is posed for the urban regeneration practices in the capital of Macedonia, the city of Skopje. Skopje and its main metropolitan area is subject of urban re-imagining which has articulated abundant critical discussions within the urban and cultural arena. The government-run project titled “SKOPJE 2014” aims to alter the city center by constructing administrative buildings, commercial spaces and baroque style cultural institutions, dozens of monuments, fountains, bridges and sculptures. What is the 'future of the representational past' objectified in the public space in Skopje in economical terms? Does the spatial regeneration which have been undertaken help overcome barriers to social inclusion and combat threats to community well being? Does cultural renaissance celebrate local distinctiveness and the multicultural composition of the city? The paper will look at these questions from a viewpoint of the economical, social and cultural facet of the project, thus challenging the pragmatic application of multiculturalism in urban policy. Finally, the paper will question whether Europe besides a Cultural Capital needs an annual example of a successful multicultural city initiative.

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ISS Staff Group 3: Human Resources and Local Development
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Mojanchevska, K., & van Dijk, M. P. (2012). 'A future of the past'. Disjuncture between urban and cultural policy planners in the city of Skopje. ISS Staff Group 3: Human Resources and Local Development. Retrieved from