ArgumentNo. 11/2019

Some observations on how danube is reflected in the minds of its inhabitants. A Romanian Case Study: Lower Danube, Giurgiu City

https://doi.org/10.54508/Argument.11.05

  • / “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, Romania

Abstract

How is Danube reflected by the current mentality of its inhabitants, beyond stereotypes and obsolete perceptions? In the context of a differentiated approach of Danube as matrix of a social, cultural and ethnic diversity, both at a macro-territorial level, and at a micro-scale, ultra-local level – this paper investigates an unconventional way (not by using extensive sociological studies) of capturing the inhabitants’ collectiv perception of Danube.

Considering this aspect of the specificity of Danube’s perception throughout it, applying it to the city of Giurgiu as a case study for the region of the Lower Danube in Romania, we tested an atypical questionnaire and a method of investigation based on direct representation and recognition of spatial language and cultural patterns.

Beyond the urban or rural labels (which are not quite accurate, but assumed by inhabitants by some inertial thinking) the Danube is perceived not only as a physical space, but also as a "living interior", mentally seen with the "peripheral" view - the one that does not focus directly on objects, but "instantly" records all the data of a complex reality. This reality includes not only the built-up shape of the Danube, its landscape and/or its functions/activities, but also its surroundings and even the associated feelings or generated by physical structures.

The result of the research examines the need to better understand the Danube as a carrier of a local specificity of habitation, with traditionalist/ inertial valences, but also as a matrix with universal qualities, as a manifestation of a general desire for innovation or correlation with other models. The "mental" of living on the Danube is made up of both elements that concern the immediate and intensely personalized perception of people's daily lives, as well as images or data that address memory, imagination or education related to the Danube.

The main purpose was to find the specific character and main indicators of the "mental image" of the Danube for the current inhabitants of Giurgiu, and at the same time to prepare a future research model of this aspect, as extrapolation for a larger territory of Danube. I performed this work as a research activity within the DANUrB project (http://www.interreg-danube.eu/approved-projects/danurb), in addition to other associated studies, eg. the study of the "hidden" values of local heritage, the study of the tourist potential, or the sound landscape of the city in relation to the Danube.

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