Intimate Colonization and the City: From “Success” to the Good Life

My home city of Cluj, Romania, has been touted as a “success story” of the transition, driven by top capitalist industries such as IT, a new generation of “creatives”, and music and film festivals attracting big numbers of tourists every year. Meanwhile, significant criticism has also been voiced, pointing to the growing inequalities with the rural hinterland and within the city, to the peripheral place of local IT labor in the global chains, and to the precarization of the local cultural scene. Using the story of my home neighborhood within the city, I offer a reflection on the city as a living accumulation of contradictions, showing specific ways in which coloniality has hit the ground in Eastern Europe. I invite you to join me in drawing a bridge across the socialist experience and the transition to capitalism, in this case between the lived experience in a workers’ neighborhood from an industrial area invested with the ecological dreams of the socialism of the future, and the lived experience of the same neighborhood in the beautified city of property-owners and real estate valorizations.