Second World Urbanity

My colleague Daria Bocharnikova (University of Leuven/Center for Fine Arts BOZAR) and I started the scholarly project, “Second World Urbanity: Between Capitalist and Communist Utopias.” in 2012. Our project brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines to explore the evolution of the socialist cityscape over the course of the 20th century to the present.

For the first publication based on this project, see our introductory essay to five essays in a special issue of the Journal of Urban History, forthcoming in January 2018:

“Second World Urbanity: Infrastructures of Utopia and Really Existing Socialism,” introductory essay for special issue of the Journal of Urban History, online first publication May 2017; forthcoming in print in January 2018.

An apartment building on the Karl-Marx-Allee, a major thoroughfare of socialist urbanity, in Berlin in 2008.

Second World Urbanity: A Project Prospectus

This project aims to bring together scholarly contributions on the various endeavors in the Second World to conceive, build, and inhabit a cityscape alternative to the segregated spaces of capitalist cities and the atomized world of suburbia. It pays close attention to the tensions between global challenges and locally driven agendas that made architects, planners, and ordinary dwellers alter socialist modernity according to more particular interests. The work of imagining and designing urban space was undeniably a powerful instrument of forging Socialist modernity. In recent years, a growing number of scholars from a variety of disciplines have studied Socialist planning and its aftermath after the collapse of state socialist regimes in 1989/1991. Second World Urbanity reflects on the contributions scholars of urban history can make to scholarship on state socialist regimes more generally. What do we – urban historians and historians of architecture – have new to say on the history of the Second World? What are the new research questions that our subfield has generated in recent years?

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