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Official naming and cultural identity in a European Capital of Culture by Inge Saerheim



There was realized one interesting project when Stavanger was ECoC in 2008. It had to do with street names and their history.

In Berlin, there is a whole story about street names. For instance, what to do with Stalin or Marx allee once the wall came down, or why was one boulevard leading towards Brandenburger Gate named 17 June after the war and the devision of the city became an establishe fact? It was to remember the first revolt by workers against Socialist regimes in Eastern Europe. It happened in East Berlin on 17 June 1953. Often changes in names are connected with groups pushing through their agenda; in other cases, it is a late recognition e.g. the Rudi Dutschke street. His name was given to a street where the media and press had their offices in 1968, with the Springer House not too far away.

In the case of Stavanger2008, the approach taken by Inge Saerheim was an anthropological one. What became of this project, that needs to be found out. Also it should be researched further to what extent this project has some ramifications for future ECoCs. For street names can depict historical and cultural developments. For instance, there existed after WWI in Heidelberg one street called Frieden (Peace) and parallel or next to this one another street called 'Krieg' (war). It was a favourite question to ask which street hoisted first the National Socialist Flag in support of Hitler: the Peace or the War street. While everyone would expect it to have been the War street, it was the Peace street.

Again in Berlin, philosophers and poets play a role. It means one can go from Bismarckstreet into Goethe and Schiller Street, while a bit further down, there is the Kant Street. One small street crosses over Kant. It is called 'Bleibtreu' or „remain faithful.“ No wonder when uncertain love couples would love to go to a cafe in Bleibtreu just to make sure this love would last for more than a mere night. Still, one woman not faithful to her husband, would say she loves the Kantstreet as this street goes through a lot of changes from its beginning to the end; no wonder that she described Kantstreet in that way, for she would leave her husband to meet her lover further down that same street.

Official naming and cultural identity in a European Capital of Culture

by Inge Saerheim

  1. The function of place names

    - Addresses, information

  2. Urban naming

    - Urban planning; heritage, local tradition, cultural identity

  3. Stavanger2008

    - Vision: „open port“

    - Objectives: „cultural curiosity and tolerance“, „enhance regional identity and pride“

    - Values: „cultural heritage and development“

  4. Official naming and naming principles in Stavanger and Sandnes

    - recommendation to use place names that already exist in the area

    1. Medieavel times

      - ON Stafangr, 'fjord, bay' + 'stick, pole', Vagen 'the bay', 'Skagen' straight headland', Nedregata, Ovregata, Kirkegata

      - Olavskleiva, St. Olavsgata, Kannikbakken, Kannikgata, St. Svithuns gate, Pedersgata, Pedersbakken, Hopsitalgata, Bispegata, Bispeladegard, Bispebrygga, Biskop Nals gate, Biskop Reinalds gate, Skolebekken

      - Arneageren Salvagergata, Solverberggata

    2. Using existing place names: topographical names, farm names, etc.

      - Ostervag, Valberet, Ovre Holmegate

      - Rusta, Nautholmveien, Tasabekken

      - Kjervastadveien, Dreggavikveien, Gilarhauggata, Iglemyrveien

    3. Activites and traitions

      - Communication: Hetlandsgata, Gamle, Somavei,. Strandgata, Bueseneset, Laberget, Todveien

      - Market place, trade: Torget, Timianstora, Rosenkildegata

      - Handicraft: Kipra, Bokkersmauet., Hookergata, Garvergata, Skreddersmauet, Seilmakergata, Smeaheiveien

      - Pottery, brick works: Pottemagerstraen, Simonsbakken, Teglverksgata, Gravarsveien, Altonagata

      - Shipping, oil: Store Skippergate, Verven, Steinkargata, Dokksmauet, Banevigsgata, Statfjordveien

      - Farming: Lokkeverein, Kjelvene. Vodlaveien, Revheimsslatta, Markageilen, Molkeholen, Skjeneholen, ugane, Torvbeen

      - Traditions: Skansegata, Steilebakken, Tjuvholmen, Bronngata, Badehusgata, St. Hans gate, Asylgata, Klubbgata

      - Religious life: Misjonsveien, Brodregata, Stifelsesgata, Emmausveien, Vaisenhusgata

    4. Memorial names

      - Consul Sigval Bergesens vei, Loseoldermann Natvigs vei, Rektor Steens plass

      - Henrik Steffens gate, Bolette Wieses gate, Oscar Methisens gate, Robert Scott gate

      - Obstfelders vei, Seehusens gate

      - Klasaskeret, Gitlesmauet, Finklasmauet, Tidesmauet

      - Haugvaldstadminde, Engelsminnegata, Ledaalsgata

      - Magnus Lagaboters gate, Leiv Eirikssons gate, Erling Skjalgssons gate; Tors gate, Froyas gate

      - Skipper Worses gate,Veslemovveien, Peer Gynts vei, Mor Ases vei

    5. Group naming

      - Lalla Carlsens gate, Nystolveien, Lauvastolveien; Jonsvoll, Gjetarshaugen, Berghagen

      - Malthaugbrautene, -kroken, -stien, -stubben, -svingen

    6. The local language, dialect

      - Words: Madlaforen, Hansabeen, Risseboerstaen, Folkvordgeilen

      - Conjugation: Larsamyra, Madlatua, Skolebrygga, Olavskleiva

      - Pronounciation: Valberget, Tostenbakken, Gitlesmauert, Hokkergata, Bjodnabeen, Vodlaveien

      - Composition form: Thorsatreaen / Thorsesmauet, Soregata; Skredbakka, Hagabakka

      - Danish influence: Skaarlia, Sandvedlia, Rosenli, Blidensolstredet, Solyst, Bjergested

      - Inconsistence: Hatleveien/Hasselveien, Kvernevik/Knevdnabergjet, Ulveeien/Ulvaryggjen, Sandviga/Sandvikveien, Leikvollbakken/Leigvollgata, Todnemlia/Todnheimveien


  1. Conclusion




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