Session proposal for the
5th International Urban Geographies Conference of Post-Communist States: CATference 2013
Urban Research, Urban Theory and Planning Practice
Tbilisi, 11th-13th September 2013
Modernism and the (post-)socialist city
In this session, we want to look at the (post-)socialist city from the perspective of modernism. The goal is to explore the different ways in which historically socialist and post-socialist cities have been conceived and represented in their relation to modernism (demarcation, embracement, modification etc.).
In this session, we heed to Berman’s (1983) distinction of three component parts of “modernism”: the visions of urban living that constitute modernism; the methods of modernization employed to realize those visions; and the resultant lived modernity. This division into three parts supports a more nuanced reassessment of modernism and its legacies and suggests a critical position that falls somewhere between ‘modernolatry’ and modernist-bashing (Jencks, 2007). While accepting that many twentieth- century modern dreams ended in catastrophe, Susan Buck-Morss argues that we should work through the ruins of twentieth century modern dreams to retrieve and reassess the modern ideas behind them (Buck-Morss, 2000). Such reassessment also has to question the predominant limitation of modernism to a range of Western-centric concepts alone (Robinson, 2006; also Gaonkar, 2001; Mitchell, 2001) and open towards the idea of different modernities.
We are interested in the different ways in which modernism has been articulated and negotiated in constituting the socialist city, from Latin America to Eastern Europe, Africa, Central and Southeast Asia. What role have different socialist conceptualizations (Soviet, Maoist, Titoist, etc.) and their transformations played in this? How was the Soviet understanding of the city as “the cradle of progress and (…) a generative model of transformative modernity” (Alexander & Buchli, 2007) implemented and which repercussions did this ambition bring about? Do contemporary post-socialist cities, striving for competitiveness in a globalised economy, use modernist legacies as an asset – or do they, to the contrary, erase this heritage? If urban life continues to be perceived as “modern”, how have the articulations of modernism changed? If modernism is no longer a lens onto urban life, what has come in its stead? This session is therefore open to a variety of contributions, empirically or theoretically focused. We particularly welcome accounts that make comparative links as well as contribute to a critical understanding of modernity/ies.
Please send your abstracts to the organisers by 10 February 2013.
Markus Kip (York University, Toronto): firstname.lastname@example.org
Wladimir Sgibnev (Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde): W_Sgibnev@ifl-leipzig.de
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