Sustainable diversity and public space in the city of Bratislava, Slovakia
The aim of the paper is to study a specific indicator relevant to sustainable diversity in postsocialist Bratislava – urban public space and its transformation – from a social anthropological perspective. A comparative approach was used to examine important historic periods of the 20th and 21st centuries in order to examine the (dis)continuous development of a post-socialist city. The analysis is built on qualitative data collected from city council documents, local newspapers, reports of governmental and non-governmental organisations over the previous ten years, and ethnographic research based on participant observation and interviews over a period of four years. The results show that urban public space in the socialist and post-socialist periods differed significantly by its closeness and openness. After cities were given the power of decision-making in public administration reform, they introduced new urban strategies and policies. One of key elements of these policies in Bratislava was to invest in public spaces in the historic city centre with the aim of revitalising urban life, integrating diverse urban populations, reviving the residential function of the centre and attracting foreign investors and tourists. Despite the attempts of local government to create public spaces of integration for all, growing commercialisation in the historic centre makes it inaccessible for many people.