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COUNTERFEITING THE NATION? Skopje 2014 and the Politics of Nation Branding in Macedonia



This article analyzes the political dynamics centered on Skopje 2014, an urban renovation project sponsored by the government of the Republic of Macedonia, which is linked to efforts to define a distinctive nation brand for the country. Examining the project and the controversies it has generated, I argue that the form of nation branding represented by Skopje 2014 indicates a new modality of neoliberal governance in which the state functions as an entrepreneurial subject within a competitive global marketplace oriented to the attraction of deterritorialized finance capital. I show how promoting a national brand image defined a field of state management where the development project was imagined to mediate Macedonia's relationship to foreign investment and tourism. However, as illustrated by the Macedonian case, nation branding not only rationalizes a new state project but also grounded an idiom of popular claim-making on the state. Through portrayals of the Skopje 2014 project as an inauthentic and counterfeit copy of other European cities, critics have constructed counterproductive national promotion as both an economic and existential threat to citizen-subjects. The article therefore explores how nation branding can open a new space of politics when nation-brand images emerge as sites of popular contestation. [nation branding, national identity, representation, citizenship, neoliberalism, Macedonia]

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