Summer School on Late Socialism (1956-85): The Forgotten Years between Stalinism and Perestroika. July 24-31, 2015

The controversies and legacy of the last three decades of the Soviet Union prior to perestroika have not rendered a simple overarching theory. The Tallinn Summer School in Social and Cultural Studies will bring together leading scholars and PhD students who are interested in discussing the Soviet Union from late 1950s to early 1980s, covering the period that has been labelled the time of “thaw” and “stagnation” but also “mature” or “late” socialism.

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CFP Sources of Urbanity in Post-Industrial Cities / Mapping Visaginas

We write to inform you about “Mapping Visaginas: An International Summer School on Sources of Urbanity in Post-Industrial Cities” that we are organising in Visaginas, the satellite town of a former nuclear power plant in north-eastern Lithuania, from 20 Sept – 3 Oct 2015 within the frame of the DAAD Go East Programme.

CfP Sources of Urbanity _ Mapping Visaginas final-1

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Cracks in the Curtain Wall – Beyond an Architecture of Cleanliness

 

From 4th May till 9th August 2015 – Interdisciplinary Lab at Bauhaus Dessau Foundation
Under the title “Cracks in the Curtain Wall – Beyond an Architecture of Cleanliness“ the Bauhaus Lab 2015 focuses on the new material culture of modern architecture from a hitherto little noticed perspective, that is, cleaning. Modernism clothed products and buildings in smooth, clean and hard surfaces out of artificial, industrially produced materials. Principles of cleanliness, efficiency, and hygiene were highly valued – which operating infrastructures were required to maintain a glass curtain wall though remains largely ignored.

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GenPlan 101: How to Read a Socialist General Plan Drawing

The socialist version of the master plan is the general’nyi plan, or general plan (GenPlan for short). It is important to insist on terminology here. Socialist general plans—and the intimated processes required to instantiate them—differ measurably from so-called capitalist master plans in scope of ambition and temporal persistence. Continue reading

The Master Plan and the Socialist City

In the course of exploring the planning and architecture of any given city, scholars are often eager to reproduce an image of its Master Plan, if one is available. Such a document immediately offers the scholar’s audience a snapshot, bird’s-eye abstraction of the city with which to orient themselves. Continue reading

The Black Sea in the Socialist World

The Black Sea in the Socialist World

6 & 7 February 2015

Birkbeck College, University of London

Conference Programme

Supported by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies, The Wellcome Trust (Small Grant in the Humanities), The Society for the Social History of Medicine, and The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities

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(Thoughts about) more chapters to be written – and even more comparison!

On behalf of the whole editorial team, the authors and photographers, I want to thank Daria and Steven, for presenting and discussing our book on your forum, and Anne, Carmen, and Igor and for their three reviews with competent and constructive feedback.

I would like to start with thanking Carmen, for acknowledging the visual structure and partly ‘artful’ concept of the book, although not explicitly discussed in the text. Indeed, we had long argued and then consciously chose a publishing house that would go for any design we wanted – as long as we could afford it within our limited financial resources. Continue reading

Refuting Exoticism

Already in 1974, Henri Lefebvre asserted how “leisure is as alienated and alienating as labour; as much an agent of co-optation as it is itself co-opted. […] Once a conquest of the working class, in the shape of paid days’ off, holidays, weekends, and so on, leisure has been transformed into an industry, into a victory of neocapitalism and an extension of bourgeois hegemony to the whole space.”[1]

The “bourgeois hegemony” over spaces of leisure that Lefebvre reproaches is truly unrelated to the type of socio-political settings of a particular context, be it socialist or capitalist. However, making any two cases commensurable for the purposes of evaluation is never ideologically neutral, and histories of post-socialist development in Central and Eastern Europe often run the risk of an inherent exoticism. Socialism can indeed seem as a valid common denominator that offers a meaningful frame to discuss and compare specific building cultures; it can perform as an appropriate expedient of comparison but only if it simultaneously questions the rootedness of its own discourse. Continue reading