IXth International Conference on Urban History

August 27-30, 2008

Lyon France
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 Session description

The Post-Socialist City. Continuity and Change in Urban Space and Imagery

City planning under socialism cannot be envisaged without an ideological purport. Socialist ideas and concepts influenced the city planning and found their realisation in buildings, street ensembles and squares, in films, literature and the visual arts. This heritage lives on in the post-socialist city even after the collapse of the previous political system. In the last decade, representative buildings from the socialist period have lost their political implications. Many of them disappeared, others were being recodified and acquired new functions. As a result of this process, new concepts of urban space emerged, reflecting the political changes that occurred at the same time.

The Eastern European cities and the lives of their inhabitants are still dominated by large industrial complexes and panel buildings. More recently, the same space has provided impulses for a new artistic definition of urbanity in literature, film and the visual arts. Large parts of the socialist city persisted through the changes but have come to perform new roles. But the shaping of the post-socialist city with its symbols, images and metaphors could not do away with all references to the socialist city and its imaginary.

It is legitimate to ask whether the ideological implementation of the city under socialism is removed in the post-socialist time with its programmatic lack of ideology. Undoubtedly, the new functions of public space such as consumption and entertainment, determined by concerns for economic efficiency, supplanted older models of socialist buildings with their political meanings. With reference to a wide spectrum of examples, this panel proposes to discuss the transformations from the socialist to the post-socialist city. While considering the differences between the individual examples of city planning, we would like to ask if there are any traits of emerging post-socialist cities that are typical, both in their architectural reality or their spatial concepts, and with regard to the underlying imagination of urbanity. Contributions from all disciplines are invited to pursue these questions.

Session conveners:

  • Alfrun Kliems
  • Marina Dmitrieva

Session type: Specialist Session

Classification: M - Modern


Defilad Square in Warsaw. How Far Can One Run Away from Ideology?

Author(s): Omilanowska, Malgorzata 

Representations and images of ‘recent history’ of post-socialist cities. Liminality and transition of landscape icons.

Author(s): Czepczynski, Mariusz 

Socialist legacies in the city : towards “banalization” ?

Author(s): Coudroy de Lille, Lydia ; Guest, Miléna 

The Present of the Recent Past. The Difficult Transformation of a « Paradigmatic Socialist City ».The Case of Dunaújváros (the former Stalin City)

Author(s): Kerekgyárto, Béla 

Urban happens: City of Bucharest, from a socialist metropolis to a global city. An approach from the view of spatial localization of economic activity

Author(s): Ceapraz, Ion Lucian