Second world urbanity: Between capitalist and communist utopias

  • Conference takes place: June 21-23, 2013
  • Location: The Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe, Leipzig
  • Papers proposal: February 1, 2013

In 1967 the architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable published a long piece in the New York Times on Soviet advances in urban planning and construction. Surprisingly for the Cold War era, the author openly praised the Soviets for creating a country-wide system of mass production of standardised prefabricated cheap housing, ‘an architectural sputnik’  in her own words.

Second World Urbanity: Between Capitalist and Communist Utopias seeks to investigate the history of the radical reshaping of the Soviet World (in our words – the Second World), that Ada Louise Huxtable reported on in the late 1960s. This project aims to bring together scholarly contributions on the various endeavors in the Second World to conceive, build, and inhabit a socialist cityscape that was an alternative to the segregated spaces of capitalist cities and  the atomized world of suburbia.

As a venue for opening a conversation about the new approaches to urbanity and planning, this project goes beyond the geographic boundaries of the Eastern Bloc and seeks transnational, comparative, and global approaches to the study of the socialist city. We propose to think of socialist urban planning from Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union to China and Cuba as a distinct and multifaceted division of global urban planning trends.

Paper proposals are solicited for this conference and an edited volume of selected papers on a wide range of topics from (but not limited to) the history of professional networks and institutional organization, monumental projects, mass housing schemes, transfers of technologies and styles, the organization of public and private spaces, the political engagement of urban planning professionals, the treatment of gender, ethnic, and class differences in the socialist cityscape, the role of the state, the ideological premises of urban schemes and visionary projects, everyday life, urban residents’ (mis)uses of planned urban spaces.

 See more details at:

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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