Vol. 70 No. 2 (2022): Names: A Journal of Onomastics

Gendering Urban Namescapes: The Gender Politics of Street Names in an Eastern European City

Mihai S. Rusu
Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu

Published 2022-06-03


  • place-names,
  • gender,
  • Romania,
  • street names,
  • political toponymy


The gender relations of power embedded within the urban landscape and materialized in street nomenclature remain an underexplored topic in place-name studies. This paper situates the gendered spaces of street names within the broader investigation of identity politics played out in the public space. Drawing on scholarship from “critical toponymies”, this article diachronically examines the gender patterning of urban nomenclature in a city from Eastern Europe (Sibiu, formerly Hermannstadt, Romania). For this purpose, a dataset was compiled from the entire street nomenclature of the city across seven successive historical periods, from 1875 to 2020 (n = 2,766). The statistical analyses performed on this dataset revealed a “masculine default” as a structuring principle underpinning Sibiu’s urban namescape for the two centuries investigated. As this analysis demonstrates, contrary to the overall democratization of the Romanian post-socialist society, Sibiu’s streetscape continues to tell a patriarchal story informed by hegemonic masculinity.


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