Discourse of Modernist Heritage and New Ways of Thinking about Socialist Urban Areas in Eastern Europe

  • Mikhail S. Ilchenko Institute for Philosophy and Law, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yekaterinburg, Russia; Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia; Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Germany http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5736-8821


Dealing with the socialist urban legacy proved to become one of main challenges for the cities of Eastern Europe in the last decades. The fall of socialism found most of the socialist urban areas either as “rejected” heritage or as a sort of “devastated” spaces which had lost their functional meaning, symbolic significance, and any clear narratives. In such conditions, it is particularly important to watch out for those processes, which enable socialist urban legacy to acquire new languages and symbols in order to be included into the current social dynamics. This article explores the potential of the world modernist heritage discourse in giving a new approach to interpreting urban legacy of socialist era. Over the past decade, the sharp increase in the activities around re-thinking and revitalization of modernist heritage turned into a global trend. For Eastern Europe modernist legacy appeared to become a certain lens, through which it is possible to explore various visions of the Eastern European urban past within different contexts. The article seeks to reveal how the global discourse of modernist heritage influences current perceptions and attitudes towards the socialist urban legacy in the Eastern European countries, and aims to find out to what extent it facilitates integration of this legacy into changing symbolic contexts.

Author Biography

Mikhail S. Ilchenko, Institute for Philosophy and Law, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yekaterinburg, Russia; Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia; Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Germany

Mikhail S. Ilchenko is a senior researcher at the Institute for Philosophy and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ural Branch (Yekaterinburg, Russia), and a lecturer at the Ural Federal University. He also works as a research fellow at the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) (Leipzig, Germany). His research interests focus on post-socialist urban studies and social meanings of architecture. Currently, he is involved in a number of international academic projects aimed to analyze symbolic transformation of the post-socialist urban areas in Eastern Europe.


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How to Cite
Ilchenko, M. (2019). Discourse of Modernist Heritage and New Ways of Thinking about Socialist Urban Areas in Eastern Europe. Changing Societies & Personalities, 3(3), 243–257. doi:10.15826/csp.2019.3.3.074