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Call for Papers: Contentious Spaces. Uncovering the Hidden Narratives of Socialist Built Heritage

20 March 2023

Date: 27-28 October 2023
Location: University of Groningen
Deadline: 15 May 2023

photograph: concrete buildings

Following the end of state socialism and socialist ideology in Europe in the final decade of the past century, a new layer of architectural heritage has come to play a role in the formation of the contemporary cities’ built environment and urban and socio-cultural identities. Since the momentous shift instigated by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, we have seen a development of a new discourse dealing with the heritage of state socialist spaces. Over the course of the past thirty years, scholars have engaged in the historicization of the architecture of the period and the examination of the projects and processes that had come to define the formation of this new layer of arguably contentious heritage. The widespread and varied modernist architectural vocabulary, extensiveness of typological examples, lingering bureaucracy of the state socialist apparatus, and the links between ideology and the built environment have come to illustrate the discourse.

The University of Groningen’s Architecture and Urbanism invites scholars from humanities and social sciences – amongst others – to contribute with projects exploring the heritage of the state socialist architecture and urbanism and the accompanying processes. We are looking for proposals investigating the conservation and preservation of modernist heritage as well as proposals examining the historicization of modernist architectural vocabulary in the contemporary era. We invite proposals for papers, workshops and round tables, as well as for multimedia presentations and short films that examine the heritage of state-socialist architecture and urban planning in the context of the contemporary built environment and in the context of current geopolitical and socio-cultural processes.

Further, we seek to expand the scholarship dealing with marginalized actors and spaces in post- socialist discourse: We are looking for contributions focusing on the architectural heritage of women architects and minorities, and the links between the political centers of power and modernist architecture in geopolitical peripheries and their contemporary heritage. While we are primarily looking for proposals focusing on post-socialist European heritage (in East-Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans), we welcome contributions engaging with post-socialist spaces globally.

The conference contributions will be published in an edited volume.

Please submit your proposal abstracts of max. 300 words until 15 May 2023. If you have any questions, please send an email to m.babic

Last modified:21 March 2023 1.54 p.m.

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