Contentious Spaces: Uncovering the Hidden Narratives of Socialist Built Heritage

Ekaterina Heath's picture

University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands, 27-28 October 2023.

Following the end of state socialism and socialist ideology in Europe in the final decade of the
past century, a new layer of architectural heritage has come to play a role in the formation of
the contemporary cities’ built environment and urban and socio-cultural identities. Since the
momentous shift instigated by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, we have seen a development
of a new discourse dealing with the heritage of state socialist spaces. Over the course of the
past thirty years, scholars have engaged in the historicization of the architecture of the period
and the examination of the projects and processes that had come to define the formation of
this new layer of arguably contentious heritage. The widespread and varied modernist
architectural vocabulary, extensiveness of typological examples, lingering bureaucracy of the
state socialist apparatus, and the links between ideology and the built environment have come
to illustrate the discourse.
The University of Groningen’s Architecture and Urbanism invites scholars from humanities and
social sciences – amongst others – to contribute with projects exploring the heritage of the
state socialist architecture and urbanism and the accompanying processes. We are looking for
proposals investigating the conservation and preservation of modernist heritage as well as
proposals examining the historicization of modernist architectural vocabulary in the
contemporary era. We invite proposals for papers, workshops and round tables, as well as for
multimedia presentations and short films that examine the heritage of state-socialist
architecture and urban planning in the context of the contemporary built environment and in
the context of current geopolitical and socio-cultural processes.

Further, we seek to expand the scholarship dealing with marginalized actors and spaces in post-
socialist discourse: We are looking for contributions focusing on the architectural heritage of

women architects and minorities, and the links between the political centers of power and
modernist architecture in geopolitical peripheries and their contemporary heritage. While we
are primarily looking for proposals focusing on post-socialist European heritage (in East-Central

Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans), we welcome contributions engaging with post-
socialist spaces globally.

The conference contributions will be published in an edited volume.
Please submit your proposal abstracts of max. 300 words until 15 May 2023. If you have any
questions, please send an email to


Submit your abstract here -