In the City Mirror

Wednesday, 15 February 2012, 2:00pm - 3:30pm, IWM library
In the City Mirror: Architectural Reflections of Party Politics, Sofia (1944-89)

Seminar “Faces of Eastern Europe”

Within the Marxist framework of material determinism, the socialist city was loaded with the expectation to form the base for the societal transformation into communism. However, the theory of socialist city building was constrained within a political doctrine with no explicit prescriptions of strictly urbanist nature. In effect, under state socialism the practice of urban planning and design became a resilient reflection of the shifting party interpretation of the official ideology. In that sense, the socialist city is an insightful research focus for the study of the Eastern bloc under communism: firstly, as a reliable compass for the political imaginary of the time; secondly, as an exercise of creative interpretation of political dictates outside their proper semantic realm; thirdly, as a palimpsest manifestation of the evolution of the communist ideology throughout the Cold War period. The presentation will analyze how the socialist city has been conceptualized inside and outside the Soviet sphere and will offer a dynamic model for its interpretation exemplified through the case study of Sofia.

Elitza Stanoeva is Ph.D. candidate in History, Technical University Berlin, and Tsvetan Stoyanov Junior Visiting Fellow, IWM.