Socialist Legacy–Emerging Heritage?

After the fall of socialism in the Central and Eastern Europe, architecture and urban space that expressed the communist ideology occupied a disputable place in the collective memory and identity of the post-socialist countries. Buildings, public spaces and monuments of the socialist era, which were designed to foster the communist political order and society, became abandoned, depreciated and contested in the context of transition to democracy. Some of them represented unwanted heritage that embodies the former communist values and ideals, such as proletariat and partisanism, which became obsolete. Others represented difficult and painful heritage that recalls occupation, oppression and violence by the fallen authoritarian regimes.

This session seeks to explore the different ways in which the post-socialist societies have dealt with their socialist heritage in architecture and urban space. The case studies can include tangible spaces such as political and communal buildings, monuments and memorials; as well as intangible elements of city, including rituals in public space, place names and other forms of spatial discourse. These can be both designated and undesignated heritage sites. We welcome theoretical and empirical papers which investigate the spatial, social and political dimensions of dealing with the socialist heritage, covering (but not limited to) one of the following themes:

  • Actors, negotiations and contestations in the process of dealing with socialist heritage

  • The link between the transformation of the socialist heritage and the post-socialist identity.

  • Destruction of socialist heritage and its role in mediating the post-socialist change.

  • Urban fallism—the action of pulling down and/or removing monument to the ousted communist regimes and leaders.

  • Adaptive re-use and transformation of socialist heritage for new purposes.

  • Musealisation of socialist heritage.

  • Creative reuse of socialist legacy and the cases of its decontestation.


Session chairs:

Dr. Mirjana Ristić Trogrančić, Institute for Sociology, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany;

Mirjana Ristic Trograncic is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the Technical University Berlin. Her PhD thesis, which explored architectural and urban dimensions of inter-ethnic conflict in Sarajevo, won John Grice Award for Excellence in a PhD Thesis in Architecture at the University of Melbourne in 2012. Her postdoctoral research project focuses on the urban reconstruction of the former Cold War borderland between East and West Berlin.

Dr. Nebojša Čamprag, Faculty of Architecture, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany;

Nebojša Čamprag is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow based at the Faculty of Architecture, Technical University Darmstadt. His doctoral dissertation, awarded in 2014 as the best dissertation at the Faculty of Architecture, deals with the issues of identity and sense of place in contemporary cities, as a challenge that results from a range of global, economy-driven changes that cities are facing today. His current research interest is in the framework of interaction between globalization and built environment on the level of international comparison..

Dr. Anshika Suri, Faculty of Architecture, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany;  

Dr. Anshika Suri is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow based at the Faculty of Architecture, Technical University Darmstadt. Her research interest lies in analysing urban infrastructures through a feminist perspective. Her doctoral dissertation was in line with understanding the urban sanitation challenge being faced by women in informal settlements in the cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. Her current research interests focus on intersectional analyses investigating the discourse within feminist urban planning and retrogressive metamorphosis in gender-inclusive urban planning.

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