Re-Centring the City

Global Mutations of Socialist Modernity

Edited by Jonathan Bach and Michał Murawski

ISBN: 9781787354111

Publication: January 29, 2020

Series: FRINGE

What is this?

What is the role of monumentality, verticality and centrality in the twenty-first century? Are palaces, skyscrapers and grand urban ensembles obsolete relics of twentieth-century modernity, inexorably giving way to a more humble and sustainable de-centred urban age? Or do the aesthetics and politics of pomp and grandiosity rather linger and even prosper in the cities of today and tomorrow?

Re-Centring the City zooms in on these questions, taking as its point of departure the experience of Eurasian socialist cities, where twentieth-century high modernity arguably saw its most radical and furthest-reaching realisation. It frames the experience of global high modernity (and its unravelling) through the eyes of the socialist city, rather than the other way around: instead of explaining Warsaw or Moscow through the prism of Paris or New York, it refracts London, Mexico City and Chennai through the lens of Kyiv, Simferopol and the former Polish shtetls. This transdisciplinary volume re-centres the experiences of the ‘Global East’, and thereby our understanding of world urbanism, by shedding light on some of the still-extant (and often disavowed) forms of ‘zombie’ centrality, hierarchy and violence that pervade and shape our contemporary urban experience.

Jonathan Bach is Professor of Global Studies at The New School in New York and affiliated faculty in Anthropology. He is the author most recently of What Remains: Everyday Encounters with the Socialist Past in Germany (Columbia University Press, 2017) and co-editor of Learning from Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment from Special Zone to Model City (University of Chicago Press, 2017). His work looks at social transformation in Germany and China with a focus on questions of memory, material culture, urban change, and space and identity.

Michał Murawski is Associate Professor in Critical Area Studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London.


Alena Ledeneva and Peter Zusi

Introduction: Notes towards a political morphology of undead urban forms

Jonathan Bach and Michał Murawski

Part I. Moscow, point of departure

1. Centre and periphery: a personal journey

Vladimir Paperny

2. Fortress city: the hegemony of the Moscow Kremlin and the consequences and challenges of developing a modern city around a medieval walled fortress

Clementine Cecil

3. Appropriating Stalinist heritage: state rhetoric and urban transformation in the repurposing of VDNKh

Andreas Schönle

 4. The city without a centre: disurbanism and communism revisited

Owen Hatherley

 5. Mutant centralities: Moscow architecture in the post-Soviet era

Dasha Paramonova

 II. Off centre: palatial peripheries

 6. Berlin’s empty centre: a double take

Jonathan Bach

 7. Phantom palaces: Prussian centralities, and Humboldtian spectres

Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll and Jonas Tinius

 8. Palatial socialism, or (still-)socialist centrality in Warsaw

Michał Murawski

Part III. Looking inward: re-centring the sacred

 9. The Architecture of the Seventh Day: building the sacred in socialist Poland

Kuba Snopek with Izabela Cichońska and Karolina Popera

 10. Post-shtetl: spectral transformations and architectural challenges in the periphery’s bloodstream

Natalia Romik

 11. Eat, pray, shop! The mosque as centrum in the Swedish suburbs

Jennifer Mack

 Part IV. Looking upward: power verticals

 12. Verticality and centrality: the politics of contemporary skyscrapers

Steve Graham

 13. Partitioning earth and sky: vertical urbanism in post-socialist Mumbai

Vyjayanthi Venuturupalli Rao

 14. Vertical horizons: the shadow of The Shard

Thomas Wolseley

 Part V. Looking outward: hinterlands, diffusions, explosions

 15. New geographies of hinterland

Pushpa Arabindoo

 16. De-escalating the centre: urban futures and special economic zones beyond poststructuralism’s neoliberal imaginations

Patrick Neveling

17. Explosion, response, aftermath

Joy Gerrard

Part VI. Things fall: (after)lives of monumentality

18. Domestic monumentality: scales of relationship in the modern city

Adam Kaasa

19. On an alleged thought of inflicting harm on a Lenin statue

Oleksiy Radynski

20. We’re losing him! On monuments to Lenin, and the cult of demolition in present-day Ukraine

Yevgenia Belorusets



Format: Open Access PDF

292 Pages

107 colour illustrations and 8 B&W illustrations

Copyright: © 2020

ISBN: 9781787354111

Publication: January 29, 2020

Series: FRINGE

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