The Socialist City

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Course Number: 
RUSS 171 920
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Crosslistings: 
EEUR171910
Course Description: 

This course will explore the ideology and politics of the socialist city in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and the Second World. We will focus on how design professionals, politicians, and residents realized utopian socialist values in the face of national design traditions, local politics, and limited resources. Beginning with the Soviet case, the course will consider how planners and architects addressed modernization, multi-family housing, and neighborhood units in new city plans. We will consider capitals, like Moscow, as well as less well-known regional centers that had strong local identities, such as Tashkent, Belgrade, and Prague. We will examine the state’s use of public spaces for commemorations and preservationists’ reinterpretation of existing historic sites. In addition, we will consider how everyday residents experienced the socialist city, including its multi-family housing, shopping centers, and subway systems. We will address how citizens circumvented official state channels to obtain state housing and illegally build homes for themselves, sometimes in a folk style. The course will center on Soviet and East European cities, but also address socialist cities in Cuba and Africa whose design was influenced by transnational exchanges.

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