Monday, February 17, 2014

New Project: Second World Urbanity

"Second World Urbanity: Between Capitalist and Communist Utopias" ( ) is a scholarly project that explores the history of conceiving, building, importing, and inhabiting socialist cities past and present from Cuba to Yugoslavia and Russia to China. Initiated by historians Steven Harris and Daria Bocharnikova this project brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines to reflect on the specificity of urban design and its uses in the Second World. Our goal is to shatter a common image of the socialist cityscape as necessarily dull and grey, and offer a revised understanding of its limitations and achievements. The project is envisioned as a series of informal conversations, virtual and offline meetings, and book discussions.

In 2014-2015, the Second World Urbanity project will feature three two-day conferences. 

The first will be held at the Mortara Center for International Studies at Georgetown University ( in Washington, DC on April 11-12, 2014. It will focus on "visions and foundations" in the history of socialist cities’ urban planning, architectural theories, and construction. 

The second conference will be held at the Institute of Art History, Estonian Academy of Arts ( in Tallinn, October 10-12, 2014. Through the themes of "circulation, translation, and transition," we will examine how urban planning ideas and architectural concepts circulated across spatial and temporal boundaries within the Second World, as well as across the Iron Curtain and into the global South and back again. 

The third conference will be held at the Department of History of the Higher School of Economics ( in St. Petersburg in February 2015 (specific dates still to be determined). Its themes will be "consumption, representation, and the everyday" in the socialist city with a particular focus on how urban residents transformed socialist architecture and urban planning into lived spaces, and how artists and writers participated in the construction and representation of the socialist city.

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